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i V r inodiiii 


The present work rus been my dream since 1951. It has taken me about 
twelve years to complete it The method followed in its composition has been 
analytical, constructive, and critical. Kalidasa is a great poet, a vast ocean, and 
a comprehensive effort based on his works has yet been a desideratum. Efforts 
have been made earlier to study Kalidasa but they have mainly centred round the 
political aspect. A vast world that is disclosed by the genius of the poet has 
been therefore lying as a sealed book to us. 1 have endeavoured to study the 
poet under the various spheres of human knowledge and the results of my study 
spreading over more than a decade are embodied in this volume. The arrange- 
ment of the work has been made under a comprehensive scheme of seven books, 
namely (i) The Geographical Data, (2) Polity and Governance, (3) Social Life' 
(4) Fine Arts, (5) Economic Life, (6) Education and Learning, and (7) Reli- 
gion and Philosophy, each divided among several chapters. Two appendices 
dealing with the Date of Kahdasa, and the extent of Pusyamitra's Empire have 
been added at the close. A detailed Contents and an exhaustive Bibliography of 
the works consulted have been given. The date of Kahdasa, logically, should 
have been discussed in the beginning of the work but its discussion has been 
deferred almost to the closing pages due to an important reason. I have had to 
take into consideration and marshal into array a number of conclusions and 
inferences arrived at and drawn from the facts narrated in the body of the 
book. A discussion of the date of Kabdasa at the beginning of the book would 
render a complete summary of the incidents of this work at the outset almost 
imperative, and the body would then read like a repetition. So after the reader 
has taken an impression of the times and traditions of Kalidasa as disclosed in 
those pages, he will easily follow and in most cases agree with the conclusions 
- reached regarding the date of the poet given at the close. 

The main scope of this composition has naturally been the works of the poet 
himself. 1 have worked on the generally accepted seven works of Kalidasa, 
namely the MalavikdgniMitra, Vikramorvasi and Abhijndna Sdkuntala^ and the 
*&.tusamhdra^ Meghaduta, Kunidrasambhava (only the first eight cantos), and the 
^.aghuvamsa. The KuntaleSvaradautya^ perhaps a work of Kalidasa, has yet to be 
recovered and, therefore, a consideration of that work is easily precluded. For 
fear of repeating the arguments contained in numerous oriental journals I refrain 
from discussing here the reliability of the ascription of these works to the poet. I 
have utilized the texts published by the Nirnayasagara Press and other modern 
editions and works references to which have been gratefully acknowledged in 
the footnotes and in the Bibliography. There is an unmistakable affinity be- 
tween the contents of the Gupta inscriptions and those of the works of the poet 
and so the epigraphical records and the numismatic data of the Imperial Guptas 
have been: utilized to elucidate and corroborate the state of things depicted 
by the poet. 


The work is a pioneer composition and most of its books deal with absolutely 
new matter. The chapters on the Polity and Governance, Fine Arts like Paintings, 
Sculptures and Terracottas, and Architecture, Economic Life, Education and 
Learning, etc, venture out on an untrodden ground. Certainly all literature 
bearing on the subject, as far as possible, has been utilized and acknowledged in 
due context. The date of Kahdasa may perhaps now finally be accepted. In 
course of its discussion the evidence of the Gupta and Kusana sculptures and ter- 
racottas which conclusively fix the age of the poet to the Gupta times has been 
utilised. A side issue, that of the extent of Pusyamitra's Empire, has been 
occasioned by the reference of the poet to the Sindhu which has been identified 
with the frontier Indus on the authority of the new data furnished by the Yuga- 
purana of the GV/>" Stiwh/tci. A detailed discussion has been attempted in the 
same appendix on the snrnc authority on the contemporaneity of Kharavcla, 
Demetnos, Pusyurmtta and Menandcr. A discussion regarding the various 
readings in the text of Kfihdasa's works would mean a work r>f an independent 
character and would involve efforts wholly devoted to the editing of the text. But 
herein also, where necessary, an effort has been made to accept the sane readings. 
'Jlus has been done by accepting the standard editions of which a complete list 
is given at the end of this work. The Nirnayasagara edition has been cited for 
bringing about a uniformity in the references. 

As the title India In Kdlidasa implies, the present work seeks to give a 
picture of the times in which the poet lived and wrote as also (which, as a matter 
of fact, has turned out naturallv to be more extensive) rf the beliefs and ideals 
of his age. These ideals were not necessarily to be fulfilled in instances of 
contemporary times. Most of what Kahdasa portrays is traditional and conven- 
tional. This work seeks to describe both the contemporary as well as the ancient 
conditions, the historical as well as the traditional India, i.e. all that the poet 
has to say. Ar effort to give only the historical aspect would most necessarily 
be defeated, as such inferences are few and far between. The only thing that 
can be done in this regard is to give th j composite picture of both the traditional 
and the historical India and to distinguish the one from the other. In this work 
an endeavour has been made to distinguish the traditional from the historical, 
at the end of the discussion of every topic. Lapses, however, may have been 

All pains have been taken to verify carefully the references of the footnotes 
and they have been read and re-read, yet there is every likelihood of mistakes 
orthographical, diacritical and of typing occurring in this work. There may 
also have been engendered mistakes^of commission and omission by inadvertence, 
although no pains have been spared to eradicate them. The author, therefore, 
will most willingly and with deep gratitude correct any mistakes that may be 
pointed out. 

A word may be added here with regard to the publication of this work. 
It should have seen the light of dav as early as 1941 but due to some technical 
difficulties its printing was held up. Finding the plans of publication delayed, the 
author published a few hundred pages of its matter in research periodicals like 
the Journal of the 'Benares Hindu Vwi'erstty, he Indian Historical Quarterly, and. the 


Indian Culture. The contents, thus published, were cited at length, with or without 
acknowledgment, by scholars. The work, however, is at last being published as 
a result of the keen mte'rest taken in it by Mr. G. D. Birla, who has been good 
enough to finance the venture and to whom I register r my deep sense of gratitude. 

I have further to acknowledge my indebtedness to the late Dr. K. P. 
Jayaswal, M.A. (Oxon), Barrister-at-]aw, to Dr. A. S. Altekar, M.A., D.LITT., 
Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Benares Hindu University, 
'and to J3i^R. S, Tripathi M.A. PH.D., Professor of History, Benares H ndu 
University, for a number of valuable suggestions. I thank my friend Mr. 
Brahmadatta Dikshit, M.A,, for doing the Index. 

I cannot fail to express the deep sense of gratitude under which Dr. E. J. 
Thomas of Cambridge has laid me by writing a foreword to this volume despite 
his crowded engagements. 






Physical Features Difficulties in discussion, Geographical Data, Boundary of 
India, the Mountains of India, Passes, the Plain of Hindustan, the Plateau, 
Mainaka, the Rivers of India, Confluences, Waterfalls, Lakes, Seas and Oceans, 
Season (climate and rainfall), Clouds. 


Flora and Fauna Flora^ Kinds, Trees, Plants and Creepers, Flowers of land and 
water; Fauna Wild Animals, Domestic Animals, Birds. 

CHAPTER III . ..... 

Territorial Divisions Identified Suhma, Vanga, Utkala, Kihnga, Pandyas, Apa~ 
ranta, Kerala, Paraslkas, Ilunas, Kambojas, Kiratas, Kmnaras, Utsavasanketas, 
Pragjyotisa and KamarQpa, Magadha, Anga, Avanti, Anupa, Surasena, Kah- 
nga and Pandya, Uttarakosala, Vidarbha, Videha, Smdhu, Karapatha, Kuru- 
ksetra, Naimisa, Nisadha, Dasarna, Mala, Dandakiiranya, Pancavatf, Janas- 
thana, Lanka, Cities and other small localities. 




The State and fhe King The State, Theory of State and the Nature of the king's 
relationship with the State, the king's Paraphernalia, Personal Qualities of 
the king, Duties of the king, Education of the king, Heir- Apparent, his Conse- 
cration, Consecration of the king, Amusements of the king. 

CHAPTER V . . ..... 

Thoughts on Polity Technical Terms of Polity, Kings' Policy at Home and 

CHAPTER VI . . . - . . 

Sovereignty, Vassals y and Digvtjaya Sovereign, Power and Royal Dignity, Sover- 
eign Terms, Types of States, Digvijaya and ASvamedha, Time of Con- 
quest, The March, ASvamedha. 


Minister S) the Secretariat \ and Officials Ministers, Council of Ministers, Appoint- 
ment of Ministers, Plurality of Ministers, Working of the Ministry, various 
Duties of the Ministry, Status and Designation of Ministers, Members ' of the 











Council of Ministers, Chief Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for 
Revenue, and Law and Justice, Purodha, Secretariat and the Imperial Depart- 
ments, Heads of the Departments, Working of the Departments, Some Political 


The Administration of Departments Capital, Palace, Police, Law and Justice, 
Criminal Law, Prison, Civil Law, Right of Inheritance of the Widow, Evidence, 
Finance, Land Revenue, Irrigation, Excise, State Monopolies and further under- 
takings, Taxes, Conquests, Lapse of Property to the Crown, Payment in cash 
and kind, the End of Revenue, Salary, King's ownership in Land, Treasury, 
Coinage, the Army. Kinds of Soldiers, Weapons, other equipments of the 
Army, Banners and Ensigns, Camp, Tents, Instruments of Music for War. 
Women in the Army, Battle, an Archer in Action, Postures in fighting, Dis- 
cipline, Envoys and Espionage, Release of Prisoners, Provinces and Political 
Divisions, Frontiers, Feudal States, further Political Divisions, Immigration 
and formation of Villages, Efficiency of Administration. 



BOOK nr 

CHAPTER IX . .. .. .. .. .. 171 192 

Structure of Society and Marriage Structure of Society, Castes, Caste and 
Vocation, A dramas, the Stages of Hindu Life, Types of Marriage, Svayamvara, 
PrSjapatya, preliminary Rites and Bride's Decoration, Auspicious Decorations 
in Marriage, Marital Rites, Consummation of Marriage, Gandharva, Asura, 
Departure of the Bride, Age of the Couple Dowry, Polygamy, Caste-Marriage, 
Some Remarks on Marriage, Wife, Widows and the Custom of Sati, Custom 
of Purdah, Some Remarks about Women, Importance of a son. 

CHAPTER X .. . .. ... .. . .. .. 19; 208 

1'ood and Drink* Dress, Ornaments and Toilet Food-Items, Cereals, Sugar and 
Sweetmeats, Preparations of Milk, Meat, Spices, Fruit, Categories of Food, 
Drink, Kinds of Wine, Dress, Wedding Dress, Dress of Men, of Women, of 
Ascetics, Ornaments, Toilet, Hair, Articles of Toilet, Flower, Cosmetics, Mir- 

CHAPTER XI .. .. .. .. . .. .. 209 219 

Social Habits and other Incidents of Social Life Social Habits, Family Relations, 
Entertainment of Guests, Amusements, Morality, Furnituie and other House- 
hold Necessaries furniture, Utensils, etc., Horticulture. 


CHAPTER XII . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220 -229 

Poetry and Drama, Music and Dancing Poetry and Drama, Music, Dancing. 
CHAPTER XIII . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230244 

Painting, Sculptures and Terracottas Personal Embellishments, Painting Fresco 
Painting, Portrait, Group Painting, Materials for Painting, Colours; Sculpture 



Carved Peacock, Female Relict on Railing Pillars, Images of Ganga and Ya- 
muna, Brahma, Visnu; Terracottas; Halo, Karttikeya on Peacock, Armlets and 
Girdles, Locks of Hair, Data Regarding the Sculptural Physique, Dohada, 
Seven Mothers, Ravana lifting the Kailasa, Laksmt, other Pieces, Kinnara and 
AsvamikhJ, Hut, Kamadeva, Yaksa, a Dancing Girl, Siva and Buddha. 

CHAPTER XIV . . . . . . . . . . . . t . . . . 24525 5 

Architecture Royal Palaces, Saudha and Harmya, Torana, Alinda, Atta and 
* Talpa, Windows, Courtyard, Lattice work, Bath-room, Stables, Sopanaor Stairs, 
Railing Pillars and Vasayasti, Other Buildings, Gardens and Tanks, 
Dirghika, Vapt and Kupa, Knda&ula, Water-Fountain, Yupa, Hut. 



CHAPTER XV . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 256 271 

Wealth and Economic Prosperity General Prosperity, National Wealth, Agri- 
culture, Auxiliaries of Agriculture, Pasture, Occupations, Mines, Yields of the 
Marine Sources, Forest, Trade Import, Export, Inland Trade, Coins, Weights 
and Measures, Guild of Artisans, Banking and Deposit, Population, Wealth 
and Luxury, the Household. 

BOOK vr 

CHAPTER XVI . . . . . . . . . . , . . . . . 272 282 

'Education Subjects of Study, Initiation of a Student, Teachers, Salary, School 
of Music and Painting, Life of the Student, Period of Study, Students, Fees, 

CHAPTER XVII .. .. . .' .. .. . .. .. 283295 

luiterature Internal Works of Kalidasa Sakuntala. Vikramorvafi. Mala- 
vnkdgnimitra y ULagbuvamsa, Kumarasambbava, Megbadtlta, Ktusawhara y Style; 
External Astronomy, Medicine, other sources and Literature, Smrtis, 
Kamasutras, Arthasastra, other works cited. 

BOOK vii 

CHAPTER XVIII . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 296 340 

Rjeli&ion The Outlook, Pantheon, Puranic, Gods, Semi-gods and Goddesses, 
Deification of Animals and Rivers, etc., Demnology, Indra, Agm, Varuna, 
Rama, Tvas^ra, Rudra, Surya, Lokapalas, Brahma, Prajapati, Visnu, Narayana, 
Trivikrama, Mahavaraha, Bhagavana, Rama, Vasudevakrsna, Siva, His form, 
PaSupata Dharma, Trimurti, Skanda, Kubera, Sesanaga, Seven Mothers, Uma, 
Kail, Saci, Ganga and Yamuna, Sarasvati, Laksmi, Pitrs and Ris, Vidyadharas, 
Kinnaras, Punyajanas, Yaksas, Siddhas, Ganas, Theology, Polytheism, Mono- 
theism, Pantheism, Monism, Idol worship, Samskaras Purhsavana, Jatakarma, 
Namadheya and Cudnkarma, Upanayana, Godana, Vivaha, Daaha; Fires, 
Sacrifices, Avabhrtha, VJvajit and Putresthi, Daksina, Priests, Worship, Anus- 
thana, Vrata, Religious festivals Puruhuta festival, Kakabali, Rtutsava, Full- 
moon night; Pilgrimage, Popular Beliefs and Superstitions, Attitude towards 
Life, Kinds of Ascetics, Dress, etc. Austerities, Guests, Cosmogony, Escha- 
tology, Soul and its Transmigration, Death, Life after Death. 


CHAPTER XIX . . , . . . . . . . . . . . . . 341 3 5 1 

Philosophy Sarikhya, tried of Qualities, Prakjrti, Buddhi, Pramanas, Vedanta, 
Mimamsa, Vaigesika and Nyaya, Yoga, Buddhists and Jainas, Moka. 


APPENDIX A .. .. . . .. . .. 352360 

Date of Kalidasa 

APPENDIX B ..... . ... 3 i 368 

Extent of Pnfjamitra's Empire 

BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . ,69372 

-. 375-385 




Difficulties in Discussing Geographical Data. 

A discussion of the geographical data in Kalidasa is beset with many diffi- 
culties. The chief of these is the conventional character of Kalidasa's geography. 
The geographical uncertainty naturally leads to historical uncertainty. Geogra- 
phical data of a particular work are difficult to be assigned to a particular 
historical period in the face of a faulty and uncertain chronology. References 
to the Hunas, for example, are met with in documents so early as the Mahdbhd- 
rata 1 and Ramdyana* 1 . The Mdhdbhdrata must have been subject to additions 
till as late as the 5 th century A. D 3 , And so it would be wrong to say that the 
Mahd'bhdrata reflects contemporaneous events in its pages. Another difficulty 
is the occurrence of the same names in respect of places, mountains and the like 
in various parts of the country. Kosala, for instance, which Kalidasa mentions 4 , 
is a northern country in the Buddhist Suttas* while a southern one in the Dasa- 
kumdracaritcP : The }Laghuvamsa styles the northern nation as Uttarakosala; Ko- 
sala, however, occurs both for Uttarakosala and (once only 7 ) as the name of some 
other country, the home of Kausalya, the chief queen of DaSaratha and the mother 
of Rama. Nisadha 8 , in like manner, is both the name of a place to the south of 
Malwa 9 as well as a mountain lying to the west of the Gandhamadana and north 
of the Kabjil river, known by the Greeks as Paropamisos, and now 
called the Hindu Kush 10 . A third obstacle is the application of different names 

1 Alahabkarta, Ed. Calcutta 1834-39, I, 6685 (Huna); III, 1991 (Huna); VI, 373 (Huna). 

2 The St. Petersburg Dictionary records only one reference to the Hunas in the Rafftajana, 
namely as a varia lectio in the Bengal recension (ed. Gorresio, Pans 1845, ^^> 4 2 5)' Here 
instead of 411*1 fc^ one ms. has 

o 411^*1 ^, on ms. . 

8 First Huna invasion was repulsed by Skanda Gupta about A. D. 455. Fleet: Gupta 
Inscriptions, No. 13 (Saidpur-Bhitan); M. A. Stein: White Huns and Kindred Tribes Indian 
Antiquary, XXXIV, p. 80. ft 

*J&Mghu 9 ix. 17. 

6 Mark Collins: The Geographical Data of the RagbuvanJa and DaSakumaracarita, p. 6. 

6 Ibid. 

7 ILagbu. 9 ix. 17. 

8 Ibid., xviii. i. 

9 Burgess: Antiquities of Kathiawar and Kachba, p. 131. 

10 Lessen: History traced from Bactnan and Indo-Scythian coins in JASB., Vol. IX 
(1840), p. 469, note. 


for the same place or people, for example, Kusumapura, Puspapura 1 and Patali- 
putra used for the capital of Magadha, and Vaidarbha 2 and Krathakaigikas 3 for 
the people of Berar (Vidarbha). This is sometimes done due to want of 
knowledge, as when Saketa is used for Ayodhya. In the Raghuvamsa the two 
names are synonymous and Mallinatha ratifies this identification 4 . But the 
fact that both names are found in Buddhist literature indubitably points to 
a distinction. Saketa, it may be noted, was one of the six greatest cities of Bud- 
dha's time 5 . Ayodhya (Ajojjha) is met with but rarely. Saketa occurs in the' 
Samyutta Nikaya* where it is located on the banks of the Ganges. Then, there 
is the traditional and conventional element in Geography preponderating in the 
writings of Indian classical writers like Kalidasa. Names are handed down from 
author to author and used without any regard to the existence of the places and 
peoples concerned; and "the geographical fancies of an early age are similarly 
propagated from generation to generation and sometimes find their way cen- 
turies later into the sober* pages of technical literature 7 ." Last but not the least 
is the disregard to the distinction between real and fabulous geography. 
Kailasa, for instance, has been suggested by a fantastic name KuberaSaila 8 thus 
transferring the mountain to a fableland. Similarly peculiar and fabulous no- 
tions have been embodied in phrases like Siddhas 9 , Yaksas 10 , Kinnaras 11 , ASvamu- 
khyas 12 , Kimpurusas 13 and Sarabhas 14 . 

An attempt, however, will be made in the following pages to give an idea 
of the map of India from the writings of Kalidasa. Here we shall first try to 
identify the various geographical names, traditional in many cases, mentioned by 
the poet and describe in as precise a way as possible the physical features, flora 
and fauna and other data. 

Boundary of India. 

"Far in the north Himalaya, the lord of the mountains, spanning the wide 
land from east to western sea 15 ," is the northern boundary of India marked out 
by the poet. The Himalaya, the grand sentinel, is described as stretching along 
the entire northern boundary of India ultimately reaching the easterp and western 
seas. The mention of the western limit of the Himalayas is obviously tradi- 

. 24. 
2 Ibid., V. 60. 
8 Ibid., V. 39,61, VII. 32. 
4 Ibid., V. 31 (Comment). 
JB, XI, pp. 99, 247. 

6 Ed. L. Peer. Pali Text Society, 1834-1004, Vol. III. p. 140. 

7 Mark Collins: The Geographical Data of the Raghuvan^a and Dafakumdracarita, p. 8. 

8 *., VII, 30. also of HfrpHM'PlO 1 Ibid., VIII. 24. 
MiP., 14,45. 

J&r., VI. 39; M.P., i, 5 ( irmf ) 7 M.U., 3. 
u Kif.,Vm.8s:Af.U.,8. * 
"J&f.,I. ii. 
18 Ibid., VI. 39. 



tional unless we accept the Hindu Kush and the Iranian plateau as forming part 
of the great range and thus touching the Arabian Sea. But this would be too 
far fetched for even the Hindu Kush, the Paropamisos of the Greeks, is consi- 
dered outside the range of the Himalayas. In the far east lay the eastern sea 1 
(Purvasdgara) which to-day bears the name of the Bay of Bengal. Its coast was 
bordered by the eastern peoples of the lower Ganges, the Suhmas 2 and the Van- 
^gas 3 . It extended to the great Indian Ocean 4 (Mahodadhi} which lay spread to 
'the far south thus hemming in almost the three southern sides of the Indian con- 
tinent and creating the great Indian peninsula. The ocean in the south-east 
and the extreme south was lined with extensive forests of palm trees 5 and so 
looked jet black from a distance. The eastern coast-line running to the south 
was inhabited by some of the mightiest peoples of India, the Kalingas, fampus 
for their elephant forces 6 , and the Pandyas 7 , the lords of the south. Along 
the south-west coast of the ocean were settled the Keralas 8 . The entire western 
coast was the region of Aparanta 9 which also included the habitat of the Keralas. 
In the north-west, i. e., Persia, in the valley of the Oxus and adjacent to them res- 
pectively dwelt the bearded Persian horsemen 10 , the Hunas u and the Kambojas 12 . 
These foreign inhabitants we shall discuss and locate later. 

Looking at the chart of India as furnished by Kalidasa, we can see the 
country divided into three main parts, namely (i) the great mountain wall 
of the Himalayas, (2) the great lowlying plain of the midland formed by 
the valleys of three great rivers, the Sindhu, Ganga and Brahmaputra, and (3) 
the great plateau of the peninsular India. 

From the Pamir knot in the north the greatest range of mountains is that 
of the Himalayas known to Kalidasa by phrases HimddrP* and Himalaya 1 * (the 
abode of snow) with many of the highest mountain peaks of the world. The great 
mountain wall formed by the Himalayas runs towards the east marked frequently 
with its sky-kissing peaks which have been alluded to by the poet with the follow- 
ing names, viz., Kailasa 15 , GaurlSikhara 16 , Gandhamadana 17 , Mandara 18 , and 

*., IV. 32. 
2 Ibid., 35. 
a Ibid., 36. 

Ibid., 34. 

6 Ibid. 

6 Ibid., 40. 

7 Ibid., 49. 

8 Ibid., 54. 

9 Ibid., 5 3. 

10 Ibid., 60-65 

11 Ibid., 68. 

12 Ibid., 69. 

13 Ibid., 79. 

JJ Ibid., 79. 

16 Rtf^., II. 35; M.P., n, 58, Vik., p. 87: 
Vii. 30. Ifop^MPlR VIII. 24. 

1 A tr- f-r 

hu. y IV. 80: 

i. 30. l^eftfq^i^plp^ VIII. 24. 

J\ju ^7 T 

17 Ibid., VL 46. VUI. 28, z 9 , 75, 86,; K//fe., pp. 87, 118. 
18 JC.,Vni., 23, 59. 


Meru 1 or Sumeru 2 . 


The Kailasa mountain is probably the Khang-rin-poche of the Tibetans, 
situated about 25 miles to the north of Manasa-sarovara beyond Gangotri 
which is also called Darchin, and to the east of Kfiti Pass 3 . It is a spur of the 
Gangri range. "In picturesque beauty Kailasa", says Strachy, "far surpasses 
the big Gurla or any other of the Indian Himalaya that I have ever seen; it 
is full of majesty a king of mountains 4 ." The identification of the Kiunlun 
range with Kailasa is a mistake 5 . The MahdbhdratcP and the ftrahmdndapurdna* 
include the mountains of Kumayun and Garhwal in the Kailasa range 
which Kaljdasa seems to endorse 8 . Kailasa was supposed to be the abode of Siva 
and Parvati which fact has been- frequently alluded to by the poet 9 . Kalidasa 
refers to this as a mountain formed of crystals 10 . Its peak has been indirectly 
referred to as covered with perpetual snow 11 which served as a mirror for the 
celestial women 12 . We find that convention and mythology enter almost naturally 
in the description of the poet and he associates with the mountain the Puranic 
tale which credits Ravana with lifting it and loosening all its joint-spots and thus 
striking terror in the hearts of creatures dwelling over it 13 . This mountain is 
known to have acquired one of the traditional Puranic names of Kuberasat'/a u 
and Ekapinga!agin lb which thus fixed the abode of god Kubera over it. Kai- 
lasa was also known by yet another name Hemakuta 16 . Nundo Lai Dey thinks 
that by Hemakuta was also understood the Bandarapuccha range of the Himalaya 
in which the rivers Alakananda, Ganga and Yamuna have got their source 
(Vardha p. Ch. 82.), but he further observes that the Kailasa and Bandarapuccha 
ranges were called by the general name of Kailasa 17 . Kalidasa, however, 
makes Hemakuta identical with Kailasa 18 . 

Gawtsikharais the s?me as the Gaurisankara according to the Vardha Purdna. 

., VII. 24; 1C*., i, 2, 18, VII. 79, VIII. 22. 
., V. 30; Ku. 9 VI. 72. 

3 Batten: Nlti Pass:/. A. S. B., 1835, p. 314. 

4 H. Strachy: J. A. S. JB., 1948, p. 158. 

5 Nundo Lai Dey: The Geographical Dictionary of Ancient and Mediaeval India. , p. 83. 

6 Vana Parva, Chs. 144, 156. 
7 Ch. 51. 

8 Vik. 9 p. 87. Fraser: Himalaya Mountains, p. 470. 

*Ra>x.,*I. 30, IV. 80; //., VII. 30, VIII. 24; M.P., 52, 58, 60. 

10 MP., 56 

11 Treffajfl": yfdPwfiH *A|H e MrA||g^m: Ibid. 

IW M.P., 58. 

13 Ibid., Ku. 9 YIII. 24. 

14 1C*., VII, 30. 
15 Ibid.,VUL24. 

16 Sak., p. 237; Vik., I. 12; Ibid., p. 38. 

17 The Geog. Die. of Anc. and Med. India,, p. 75. 

., VII. 


Schlagintweit identifies it with Mount Everest 1 in Nepal, but this identification 
is evidently incorrect, firstly, because locally it is not known by that name, and, 
secondly, because its measurement by Captain Wood 2 has proved beyond doubt 
that Gauri&khara or Gaurlsankara of the Nepalese cannot be Mount Everest. 
In modern maps the Mounts Gaurlsankara and Everest are indicated separately. 
Gandhamadana according to the Hindu geographers is a part of the Kailasa 
range 3 . The Kdlikd Purdncfi locates ic on the southern side of the Kailasa moun- 
tain. The Mahdbhdrata* and the Vardha PurdncP mention the site of the Badari- 
kaSrama on this mountain. According to the Mdrkandeya 1 and Skanda Puranas* 
the portion of the mountains of Garhwal through which the Alakananda flows 
is called Gandhamadana. Kahdasa, however, is explicit on this point and 
locates Gandhamadana in the vicinity, or rather in the very range of Kailasa 9 
(Kaildwfikharoddesam}. He mentions the Mandakmi and Jahnavl (Ganges) 
flowing through and watering it 10 . 


Mandara has been identified by Nundo Lai Dcy on the authority of many 
Puranas with a hill situated in the Banka subdivision of the district of Bhagalpur 11 , 
but this identification in view of Kalidasa's .description is evidently wrong. 
Kalidasa places this mountain in the Himalayas 12 . And the MahdbhdratcF*, unlike 
most of the Puranas mentioned by Nundu Lai Dey, does not recognise any other 
Mandara except the Mandara of the Himalaya range. "In some Puranas," ob- 
serves Dey, "the Badarika-asrama containing the temple of Nara and Nara- 
yana is said to be situated on the Mandara mountain, but in the Mahdbhdrata (Vana, 
chs. 162, 164), Mandara mountain is placed to the cast and perhaps a part of 
Gandhamadana and on the north of Badarikasrama 14 ." In locating the Mandara 
mountain Kalidasa seems to follow the tradition of the Mahdbhdrata and he places 
it in the vicinity of the Kailasa and the Gandhamadana 15 . Siva first enjoys his 
honeymoon *on the Meru 16 from where he proceeds to the Mandara 17 

1 Waddell: Among the Himalaya?, p. 37. 

2 Waddell: Lhasa and its Mysteries, p. 76. 

3 The Geo. Did. of Anc. and Med. India, p. 60. Vik., p. 87. 
4 Ch. 82. 

6 Vana Parva, Chs. 145, 157; Santi Parva, Ch. 335. 
6 Ch. 48 

*Ch. 57. 

8 VinuKh.III, 6. 

9 4>*imfon$iORi i r ^+H<s*iq*t Vik. 9 p. 87. 

VIII. 82. ~ 

11 The Geo. Diet, of Anc. and Med. India, p. 124. 

13 Anu&sana Parva, Ch. 19; Vana Parva, Ch. 162. 

14 The Geo. Diet, of Anc. and Med. Indid, {* 125. 
16 *C*r.,VIII, 23, 24, 29,59. 

16 Ibid., 22. 
17 Jbid. ? 2j, 


mountain. From the Mandara 1 he goes to the Kailasa 2 and the Gandhamadana 3 . 
The description of Mandara in which the poet indirectly alludes to the churning 
of the ocean and acquisition of the nectar can not place it in the south although 
it shows that Kalidasa has not been able to extricate himself from the traditional 
allusion of the Puranas 4 . And it is clear that although he locates it in the range 
of the Himalaya he indirectly refers to the mythology with respect to it. The 
description of the south wind blowing from the region of Malaya must not be 
confused and its evidence deduced in favour of locating Mandara in the south 
as this description refers to Kailasa two verses after 5 the verse in which the name 
of Mandara occurs 6 . 


Meru 7 or Sumeru 8 according to the MdJwbhdrata* is the Rudra Himalaya in 
Garhwal, where the river Ganges has got its source; it is near BadarikaSratna. 
According to the Matsya Purdna the Sumeru mountain is bounded on the north 
by Uttarakuru, on the south by Bharatavarsa, on the west by Ketumala and on 
the east by Bharatavarsa 10 . The Padma Purdna likewise says that the Ganges takes 
its rise from the Sumeru Parvata and flows to the ocean through Bharatavarsa 11 . 
It may be noted that the Kedaranatha mountain in Garhwal is still traditionally 
known as the original Sumeru 12 . Sherring holds that all local traditions fix 
Mount Mcru direct to the north of the Almora district 13 . Nundo Lai Dey 14 
points out that the Mahdbhdrata^ gives the name of Meru to a mountain in Saka- 
dvipa. He further observes: "It is the Mount Meros of Arrian near Mount Nysa 
of Neshadha of the Brahmdnda p. (ch. 35); the Hindukush mountain (see Me 
Crindle's Ancient India as described by Megasthenes and Arrian, p. i8o 16 )." This 
identification would place Meru or Sumeru somewhere in the Pamirs but Kalidasa's 
description places it in the vicinity of the Kailasa and the Gandhamadana. After 
his marriage Siva enjoys his honeymoon on the Meru 17 , Mandara 18 , Kailasa 19 and 

the Gandhamadana 20 all of which are situated on or in the neighbourhood of the 


1 Ibid. 

2 Ibid., 24. 
8 Ibid., 29. 
4 Ibid., 23. 

B Cf. Ibid., 23 and 25. 

6 Ibid., 23. 

7 Ragbu., VII. 24; Ku., i, 2, 18, VII. 79, VIII. 22. 

8 Kaghu., V. 30; Ku., VI. 72. 

9 SSnti Parva, Chs. 335-336. 

10 Ch. 113. 

11 Ch. 128. 
/Am,XVII.,p. 361. 

13 Western Tibet, p. 40.. 

14 The Geo. Die. of Anc. and Med. India ^ p. 197, 

15 Bhlsma Parva, Ch. n. 

16 The Geo. Die. of Anc. andMed. India, p. 197, 
"J^., VIII. 22. 

"Ibid., 23, 59. 

19 Ibid., 24. 

20 Ibid., 28, 29, 75, 86. 


Rudra Himalaya in Garhwal. Sumeru has received a fabulous treatment at the 
hands of ancient Indian writers and Kalidasa traditionally calls it a mountain of 
golii 1 and makes it the dwelling place of the supernatural beings 2 like the 
Kimpurusas and Vidyadharas. 

The Himalayas have been beautifully described by Kalidasa on several 
occasions. Dark clouds wandering round the mountain's zone cast cool shadows 
dear to the sylphs till they sought eternal sunshine on each loftier peak being 
. frightened by the storm and rain 3 . In autumn the bands of the majestic swans 
flew back to the Ganges from the dry plains. Occasionally there arose a mur- 
muring sound from the fallen leaves of the birch tree, and the wind passing 
through the holes of the wild bamboos generated melodious music, which along 
with the breezes, charged with the cool and fresh sprays of the water of the Gan- 
ges, attended upon the traveller 4 and aided the Kinnarls, the fabulous songs- 
tresses of the Himalayas in their music. 5 The nameru trees gave ample shade 
to the rocky boulders which were rendered fragrant with the touch of the navel 
(musk) of the recumbent deer. 6 Friction of pine trunks produced conflagra- 
tion 7 and at night the whole scene was lit up in a moment by the phosphorescent 
heibs which served as lamps burning without oil. 8 It is difficult to explain 
the nature of these herbs which the poet describes as shedding light. The Kraun- 
carandhra the Niti Pass stood in the mountain to proclaim the prowess of 
ParaSurama 9 who is said to have cut out this valley by his arrow to test his might 
and skill in archery. 10 In the background of this valley there stood the snowclad 
mount of Kailasa resembling a newly cut tusk 11 and serving as a mirror to ce- 
lestial women. 12 The hoary head of the Himalayas was rendered all the more 
proud and stately by the majestic movements of the roaming Yaks 13 whose white 
tails, remarks the poet, served as the flywhisks of a paramount sovereign. There 
was situated the Manasa-sarovara lake in which grew the uncommon golden 
lotuses. 14 By these Kalidasa perhaps means the yellow species of the lotus. 
The caves of the mountain were infested with lions 15 and forests were full of 
elephants. 16 The mountain is said to be the cause of endless wealth. 17 Herds 
of elephants roamed about rubbing against the sarala trees and filling the vicinity 

bu., V. 30; Ku. 9 VI. 72. 

JE*.,L 7 (PRrm), 7 (Prar), 

hu. y IV. 73. 
5 Ibid., II, 12; /*., I. 8; Af.P., 56. 

Rlgf*., IV. 74, KK., I. 54; M.P., 5 2. 

7 ALP., 5 3 ;R^//.,II, 14. 

8 #.,1. 10; Kagbu, IV. 75. 

M.P., 57. 
30 Ibid. 

11 Ibid., 59. 
"Ibid., 58. 
Ibid., 5 3; **.,! 13- 
14 MP., 62. 

16 &agbu. 9 IV, 72; Ku. 9 1. 56. 

"B^gfcK.,n. 37; K*. I- <>>7,9< 

17 *.,!. 3, 2, 


with the fragrance of the milk of those trees 1 . This is a mountain of eternal 
snow 2 and glaciers. 3 This great mountain wall of India is the subject of 
detailed description in several works of the poet. The entire story of the 
Kumdrasambhava and the theme of the latter half of the Meghaduta are connected 
with Himalaya; the fourth act of the Vikramorvaii and the seventh act of 
the Abhtjnana Scikuntala have been laid in this very region and so also are parts 
of the first, second 'and fourth cantos of the Raghwamsa descriptive of it. 


The poet speaks directly of only one pass, the Krauncarandhra. 4 Tt is the 
famous Niti Pass in the district of Kumaon which affords a passage to Tibet 
from India 5 and through which much trade between the two countries is carried 
on. There is an indirect reference to another pass in the Malaya mountains, 
between the Anamalaya and the Elamalaya through which armies passed from 
the east to west. It was through this pass that the hosts of Raghu crossed 6 to 
the western coast. It is perhaps the same as Palghat. 

The Plain of Hindustan. 

Inside the mountain wall, and forming a great curve from the Arabian Sea 
to the Bay of Bengal, is one of the most important plains of the world. It occu- 
pies the greater part of northern India and is formed and watered by three great 
rivers and their tributaries. In the west and draining into the Arabian sea is 
the river Sindhu 7 (Indus). Farther east is the river Ganga 8 (Ganges), which 
flows south-eastwards into the Bay of Bengal. Before the Ganges reaches the 
Bay of Bengal 9 (Purvasagara) it is joined by the third of the mighty rivers the 
Lauhitya 10 (Brahmaputra) forming a great delta 11 with the Ganges. 

The plain is almost free from the existence of rocky tracts of land except 
in a few cases where exclusive bills break the evenness of its' vast expanse. Kali- 
dasa mentions but one such hill bearing the famous name of Govardhana. 12 
This is the little hill situated eighteen miles from Brindaban in the district of 

The Plateau. 

Nearly the whole of India south of the great plain of Hindustan is occupied 

1 Ibid., I. 9. / 

2 f^mfs J^^ iv., 79, Ku., i. 54; f^fbjrrffpr *> i. " ^K^NMRMI : ^> <FTR 6 * 

8 K*., i. 56. 

<MP., 57- 

B Dey: The Geo. Die. of Aw. and Med. India., p. 104. 
- R*A0., IV, 51. 
7 Mai., p. 102. 

R^S**., IV. 73, VI. 48, VII. 36, VIII. 95, XIII. 57, XIV. 3; K*., I. jo, 54, VI. 36, 70; 
MP., 50, 63; srr^pft; Rjgjb., VIII. 95, X, 26, 69, nrftoft, VII. ? 6. 

9 R^#., IV. 32, 

10 Ibid., 8 1. 

11 Ibid., 36. 
18 Ibid., 51. 



by a plateau. At places the plateau rises into lofty mountains and hills like 
the Vindhyas, 1 Vindhyapada, 2 Pariyatra, 3 Amrakuta, 4 Citrakuta, 6 Mahendra, 6 
Devagiri, 7 Malyavan, 8 Ramagiri, 9 Nicagiri, 10 Sahya, 11 Rksavan 12 and Trikuta. 13 
The two mountains, Malaya 14 and Dardura 15 lay in far south. 

The Vindhyas are the famous mountain range of that name which divide 
Bharatavarsa into two great parts, the north and the south. It is from here 
that the two highways of the Uttarapatha and Daksinapatha started respectively 
to north and south. Strictly speaking the eastern projection of the Pariyatra 
from where Dhasan, the eastern feeder of the Betwa, takes its rise, was the Vin- 
dhya range. But now the southern Rksa, Pariyatra ard Vindhya proper toge- 
ther make up what we call the Vindhya range. 16 It is one of the seven Kulapar- 
rafas. 1 * 7 . The Vindhyapada is the great Satpura range from which rise the Tapti 
and other rivers. It has been called the 'foot of the Vindhyas' by Kalidasa, 18 
and Hindhu geographers. 19 It lies between the Narbada and the Tapti. It is 
the Mount Sardonys of Ptolemy 20 containing mines of cornelian, sardine being 
a species of cornelian. The Pariyatra is the western part of the Vindhya range 
extending from the source of the^Chambal and Betwa. It comprised the Aravali 
mountains and- the hills of Rajputana including the Pathar range which is per- 
haps a contraction of Pariyatra. According to Prof. Jayachandra' Vidyalankara, 
the part from where all the rivers from the Parvati and Banas to Betwa take 
their rise was the Pariyatra. It was one of the Kulaparvatas. The Amrakftta 
has been identified with the Amarakantak which gives rise to many rivers in- 
cluding the Narbada or Reva. By Citrakuta is ordinarily understood the Kamta- 
nathgiri in Bundelkhand. It is an isolated hill on a river called the PaisunI 
(Payasvini) or Mandakini, where Rama dwelt for some time during his exile. 21 

1 Ibid., VI. 61, XII. 31. XIV. 8; R/#. II. 8, 27 Mai, III, 21. 

2 MJP., 19. 

8 Ragfm., XVIII. 16. 

4 MP., 17-18. 

6 Raghit., XIII, 47-48. 

Ibid., IV, 39, VI. 54. 

8 Jiafpu., XIII. 26. 

MP.,I;MU. f 38. 
10 M,P., 25. 
11 T^agbu., IV. 52. 
3 2 Ibid., V. 44, XII. 25. 

13 Ibid., IV, 59. 

14 Ibid., IV. 46, 51, XIII. 2; X*., VIII. 25. 

16 R^//., IV, 51. 

16 Jayachandra Vidyalankara: Eharatabhtlwi aura uske Nivasi, p. 63. 

17 *\\*\ JT^RT: *n?n ^PkmiH ^nqq: i 

4di: II Markandeja Purana, 57, 10-11. 


19 Vardba Parana, Ch. 85, 
McCrtndlis Ptolemy by S. N. Majumdar, 
21 Rj/nfyapa, AyodhyS Kai?4a, Ch. j j , 


It is about four miles from the Chitrakut station on the G.I.P. Railway. The 
Dandakaranya, however, is mentioned by Kaildasa to have been entered 1 before 
the description of Citrakuta, 2 and so he would seem to place the Citrakuta south 
of the Vindhya chain. In the Meghadfita also Kalidasa refers to a hill, to which 
the commentator Mallinatha gives the name Citrakuta, 3 in such a context as to 
place it south of the Vindhya range. Thus if we agree with Mallinatha, the 
poet would seem to send the clcud first to Citrakuta 4 and then to Amrakuta, 5 
and it might then appear that a particular hill called Citrakuta lay to the south 
of the Amarakantak. But Mallinatha is hardly justified in identifying the hill 
referred to in the phrase amum tungam with the famous Citrakut hill. Again 
the verse in the Meghaduta which is supposed by MaJlinatha to embody a refer- 
ence to this hill has been declared spurious by Mr. K. B. Pathak in his edition 
of that work. 6 This looks likely. In that case the verse XII. 15 of the 'Raghuvamsa 
may be properly interpreted to show that this hilly tract was situated within 
the area know as Dandakaranya which is described in verse XII. 9 of the 
same work before Citrakuta has been referred to in verse II. 15. It cannot be 
supposed that Dandakaranya is altogether a different tract of land since it has 
been named explicitly and apart from Citrakuta. In fact, it has not been des- 
cribed at all. ' The scene opens in this region of the forest and the first descrip- 
tion is given of the Citrakutavanasthali. The stretch of Dandakaranya com- 
mences from the north of the mountain chain of the Vindhyas (i.e. the southern 
portion of Bundelkhand) and extends on .the south to the region of the river 
Godavari. Thus Dandakaranya lay partly north and partly south of the Vin- 
dhyas and may thus have well included the forest region of Citrakuta on its 
northern limit. Kalidasa describes the mount "Citrakuta with its mouths 
echoing with the sound of rivulets, and with clouds resting on its peaks and 
caves hence appearing like a wild bull playfully butting against a rock or mound. 7 " 
Close to the mount, according to the poet, flows the Mandakim. 8 This would 
easily identify the mount with the hill which is ordinarily understood by the 
Gitrakuta hill, i.e., the Kamtanathgiri in Bundelhhand. 

Rawagiri is the modem Ramteg (Ramtak), twenty-four miles north of Nagpur 
in the Central Provinces. Kalidasa places the opening scene of his Meghaduta 
at Ramagiri. 9 He refers to it to have been rendered sacred by the residence 
of Slta and Rama. There were situated hermitages in the shade of the big nameru 
(Elacocarpus) trees otherwise known as "shadow-trees'* (chayataru) on account 
of the shade provided by their luxuriant foliage. Ramagiri has been referred 
to as a high hill rendered sacred by the footprints of Rama. Kalidasa describes 


., XII. 9. 

1 Ragt*., XII. 9. 

* Ibid., 15. 

a TO fa find Comment on MP., 12. 


Ibid., 17-18. 

6 Megbad&ta. 

7 Rsgte,XIIL 47. 

8 H3lOhfl*uRl H*fto*<$ Ibid., 48. 

9 iHiPKfrlll MJP., i. 


the lowlying region about Ramagiri as covered by nicula reeds. 1 Nicagiri is 
identified 2 with the low range of hills in the kingdom of Bhopal that lies near 
Bhilsa as far as Bhojapur. But this identification seems to be incorrect. It is 
probably the ancient name of the Udayagiri hill. This hill lies in ,the State of 
Gwalior and contains some caves with inscriptions and sculptures of the Gupta 
age. Kalidasa mentions the caves as sildvesma in the Meghaduta^ v, 25 . Mahendra 
is the whole range of hills extending from Orissa to the district of Madura 
and was known by the name of Mahcndra-parvata. It included the Eastern 
Ghats and the range extending from the Northern Circars to Gondwana, 3 part 
of which near Ganjam is still called Mahendra Malae or the hills of Mahendra, 
This portion alone has been referred to by Kalidasa as he locates it in Kaliriga 4 . 
The Rjaghuvawsa places it in Kalinga. 5 The name is principally applied to 
the range of hills separating Ganjam from the valley of the Mahanadl. It is 
one of the seven principal mountain chains (Kulaparvatas) of India. 6 Kalidasa 
styles the king of Kalinga as the "Lord of Mahendra, 7 " and Kalinga was not 
limited to the country about Ganjam but extended down to the Godavari. South 
of the Mahendra mountain and along the sea-shore the entire strip of land was 
covered with rows of forests of fruit bearing puga trees. 8 Rksavan, one of the 
Kulaparvatas, 9 has been identified with the mountains of Gondwana. 10 But 
more properly it should be identified with the Satpura mountain as Aja had to 
cross it on his Vay to Kundinapura. According to Prof. Jayachandra Vidya- 
lankara it "lies stretched to the south of the Vindhya proper and Pariyatra and 
all the rivers from the Tapti and Venaganga to the Vaitaram in Orissa wash its 
foot. (Vdyu Purdna. Prathama Khanda, 45, 97-103; Visnu Purdna, Dvitiya 
Khanda, 3. 10-11; Mdrkandeya Parana, 57, 19-25 In these references there is 
much difficulty occasioned by the difference of texts: the text of the Vdyu is more 
extensive and correct, that of the Visnu briefer. But in the Vdyu, Kurtxa and 
Vardha Purdnas the eastern part of this range is named as RAsa and the western 
one as Vindhya, whereas the Visnu has a text reading just the opposite and the 
Mdrkandeya Purdna gives Skandha as the name of the eastern part and Vindhya 
as that of the southern. In truth, the text of the Visnu Purdna is correct because 
'Bindhachal* is still near Mirzapur and Rksa has been given the name of the 
southern range in the Nalopdkhydna. 11 )" "In the northern part of this double 
mountain range are situated the Pariyatra in the west and Vindhya proper in 
the east, while the entire southern part is the Kksa which is .separated from the 
Pariyatra by the valley o the Narmada and from the Vindhya proper by that of 

1 M.P., 14. ! 

2 Dey: The Geo. Die. of Anc. and Med. India, p. 140; Cunningham: Bhilsa Topes, p. 327. 

3 Dey: The Geo. Die., p. 119. 

4 R*gA0., IV. 43. VI. 54. 

5 Ibid., IV. 39, VI. 54. 

* Mdrkandeya IP urdna^ 57, 10-11. 

'&&*.; IV. 43, VI. 54. 

8 Ibid., IV. 44- 

9 Mdrkandeya Purd na y 57, 10-11. 
10 Dey: The Geo. Die., pp. 168-69. 

* x $b$ratabbum aura uske Nivast, p. 63. 


the Sone. To-day we call this whole chain formed by these three mountains by 
the name of the Vindhya range. 1 " In ajicient geography of India the stream of 
Vaitaram was supposed to flow in the mountains of Rksa which fact may imply 
that the hills of Mayurabhanj and Kendujhar were considered to be the parts 
of the Rksavan. 2 It ran uninterruptedly towards the east from the northern 
end of the Sahyadri, and then to the north of its eastern end lay the Vindhya 
proper and Pariyatra 3 . According to Prof. V. V. Mirashi Rksavan should be 
identified with the Satpura mountain as Aja had to cross it on his way to 

The Mdlyavdh is identified by Mr. Nando Lai Dey with the Anagundi hill 
on the bank of the Tungabhadra 4 . According to the Hemakosa it is identicaLwith 
PraSravana-giri but Bhavabhuti 5 refers to them as two distinct hills. Mr. Dey 
gives its present name as 'Phatika (Sphatika) Sila, where Ramachandra resided 
for four months after his alliance with Sugriva (Ramayatta, Aranya, ch. 5i. 6 )' 
Pargiter, however, thinks Malyavan and Praravana to be identical with the 
only difference that Prasravana is the name of the chain and Malyavan that of 
the peak. 7 Devagiri has been placed by Kalidasa 8 between Ujjain and Mandasor 
near Chambal. It has been correctly identified by Prof. Wilson with Devagarh 
situated in the centre of the province of Malwa on the south of the Chambal. 9 
Sabya is one of the seven Kulaparvatas of India. 10 It is still known as the Sahyadri 
?nd is the same as the Western Ghats, as far as their junction with the Nilgiris 
north of the Malaya. Trjkufa has been identified with the hills near Junnar. 11 
But more probably it was the name of a' hill to the west of Nasik. An 
inscription found at Anj?neri nc?r Nasik (Ep. Ind.^ Vol. XXV., pp. 225 ff.) 
mentions Eastern Trikuta Visaya. 

The Malaya is the southern part of the Western Ghats, south of the river 
Cauvery, called the Travancore Hills, including the Cardamom mountains, 
extending from the Koimbatoor gap to Cape Comorin where it touches the ocean 12 . 
It is also called the Agastikuta mountain being the southern most peak of the 
Anamalai mountains where the river Tamraparm has its source. "Anamalai and 
Elamalai (Anamalai lies beyond Palghat to the south of which there runs right to 
Cape Comorin the chain of the Elamalai mountains) together make up the famous 
Malaya mountain of ancient India 18 ." Bhavabhuti tells us that the slopes of the 

1 Ibid., p. 64. 

* Ibid., p. 87. 
8 Ibid., p. 91. 

* The Geo. Die., p. 123. 

5 Uttara Ramacarita, Act. i. 

6 The Geo. Die., p. 123. 

7 The Geography of Rama's Exile, JRAS., 1894, pp. 256-57. 

9 Quoted by Dey in his Geo. Die., p. 54. 

10 Markanjeyti Purana, 57, i o- 1 1 . 

11 Indian Antiquary > Vol. VI, p. 75, Vol. VII, p. 103: cf. Bhagavanlal Indraji's Early History 
oj Gujarat, p. 51. . - 

^Puii^v^Pii't ' Ragbu. 9 VIII. 2, 
, p. 9 o. ' 


Malaya mountain are encircled by the river Cauvery 1 . The Malaya abounds in 
sandal trees and is proverbially famous for its cool breezes. 2 The Malaya 
includes the mountains bordering Malabar abounding in aloe trees. The raja- 
tall forests being shaken by the cool breezes have been noted by Kalidasa 3 . The 
sting-mouthed black bees abounded among the punnaga flowers and the date 
trees grew around in abundance 4 . "The dates of the Malaya mountain over- 
spread with tamala leaves, where the sandal trees were encircled with cardamom 
creepers, and where the betel-nut trees were enclosed within a ring of tambula 
creepers 5 ." The valley of the Malaya mountain was covered with the black- 
pepper forests, where flocks of green parrots flew about 6 , and the dust of ela)car- 
damom) rose up and clung to the sweating temples of elephants 7 . The Malaya 
is also one of the Kulaparvatas of India 8 . Dardura is the Nilgiri hills in the Madras 
Presidency 9 . Kalidasa describes the Malaya and Dardura as the breasts of the 
southern region 10 . The two mountains have been mentioned together in 
the Mwkandeya Purana 11 also. Dardura, therefore, must be that portion of 
the Ghats which forms the south-eastern boundary of Mysore. The sources 
of four rivers, namely Krtamala. Tamraparm, Puspaja and Utpalavatl are placed 
in the chain which includes both the Malaya and the Dardura mountains. 


The Mainaka mountain has been referred to by the poet in a mythological and 
fabulous sense 12 . Nundo Lai Dey identifies this mountain alternatively with (i) 
the Siwalik range (KHrma P., Uparibhaga, ch. 36; Mbb, Vana, ch. 135), extending 
from the Ganges to the Bias; (2) the group c-f hills near the eastern source of the 
Ganges in the north of the Almora district (Pargiter's Mdrkandeya P., ch. 57, p. 
288); (3) a fabulous mountain situated in the sea, midway between India and Cey- 
lon (Rdmayana Sundara K., ch. VII); and (4) a mountain on the west of India in 
or near Guzerat (Mbb. 9 Vana, ch. Sg 13 ). That Kalidasa 's reference to the Mainaka 
is conventional is positively proved by the unmistakable language which he em- 
ploys in its description 14 . Therefore Nundo Lai Dey's identification No. 3 which 
alludes to a fabulous mountain situated in the sea, midway between India and 
Ceylon, may be taken as correct. 

The surface of the plateau in the Deccan and far south was furrowed by the 

1 Mahavtracarita, V. 3 . 

2 K*. 9 VIII. 25. 
8 Ra/bu. 9 IV. 6. 

* Ibid., 57- 
6 IBid., VI. 64. 

6 Ibid 46. 

7 Ibid., 47. 

8 Markandeya Purana, 57. i o- 1 1 . 

*JRAS. 1894, p. 262: cf. Bfhatsamhita, Ch. 14. 
10 JEL^te., IV. 51. 

12 J&.,L 20. 

Geo. Dtct. p. 121. 


river valleys of Reva, Godavari, Cauvery and the Tamraparni as we shall see below, 
The Rivers of India. 

The great rivers of the plain of Hindustan take their rise either from the moun- 
tain wall or from beyond it. A few come from the plateau also. Those rising 
in the Himalayas are fed with water from the gradual melting of the snow which 
lies in its home the Himalaya. These great rivers do not depend for their 
water entirely on the monsoon rains; they depend on the snow and rain which 
fall in the mountains at other times of the year. That is why they are never dry. 
In mountains they are roaring, rushing torrents, pouring through gorges of 
narrow valleys, over waterfalls like the Gangdprapdta 1 and the Mahdknsfprapdta* y 
and amongst great boulders. When they reach the plain of Hindustan they 
become slow, broad rivers wandering lazily across the plain. 

The three great river systems of northern India mentioned by Kalidasa are 
as follows: 

1. Sindhu 3 or the Indus. 

2. Ganga 4 with its tributaries and subtributaries, the Yamuna 5 , Sarayu 6 , 
Sarasvati 7 , Sona 8 , Mahakol 9 , Malini 10 , Mandakim 11 , Tamasa 12 , Surabhitanaya 13 , 
Vetravati 14 , Sindhu 15 , Nirvindhya 16 , Gan'dhavati 17 , Gambhira 18 , and Sipra 19 . 

3. Lauhitya 20 or the Brahmaputra. 

Besides some of the rivers flowing in northern and central India, Kalidasa 
names the following ones of Orissa and southern India, viz., Narmada 21 , Reva 22 
or Gautami(?) 23 , Varada 24 , Godavarl 25 , Kaveri 26 , Tamraparni 27 and Murala 28 . 

Tl. 26. 

2 to., VI. 33. 

3 Ma/., p. 102. 

*R^#., IV. 73, VI. 48, VII. 36, VIII, 95, XIII. 57, XIV. 3; to., I. 30, 54, VII. *6, 70; 

AlP., 50, 6 3 , ssrr^fr R*gb. 9 vm. 95, x. 26, 6 9; *nfhrft ibid., vn. 36. 

6 R^., VI. 49> XIII. 57> ^f^F*TT Ibid., VI. 48. 

6 Ibid., VIII. 95, IX. 20, XIII. 60-63, XIX. 40. 

7 Ibid., III. 9; Af.P., 49. 
8 R*g/w.,VII. 36. 

to., VI. 33. 
10 ^.,pp. 21, 87; Act. III. 4. 

11 Raghu., XIII. 48, to., I. 29, II. 44, III. 65; M.U., 4; Vik., p. 87. 

12 KMgbu., IX. 20, 72, XIV. 76. 

ALP., 43- 
" Ibid., 24. 
Ibid., 29. 
"Ibid., 28. 
17 Ibid., 5 3. 
" Ibid., 40. 

. 81. 

21 tiagbu., VI. 42-46; Mai., p. 9. 

23 p. 42 

24 Ate/., V. iand! 3 . 

Ra&bu.> XIII. 33. 26 Ibid., IV. 45- 27 Ibid., 50: Ibid., 55. 


Some of these rivers are known by their ancient names but the point may need 
a little elucidation and hence below is given their identification. 

Ganga otherwise referred to as Jabnukanya 1 , Jahnavf* and BhagtrathP, is the 
Ganges rising from the Garigotri in the Himalayas and falling into the sea after 
making a delta 4 with the Brahmaputra. Yamuna is the Jumna river wfyich takes 
its rise from Kalindagiri, a portion of the Bandarapuccha mountain whence it 
is called Kalindakanya*. It falls into the Ganges at Allahabad and a bath at the 
confluence 6 is considered very meritorious. The poet has gone into raptures in 
his descriptions of the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna at Prayaga 7 . He has 
reiterated the old traditions that a dip in the joint current of the two holy rivers 
where the dark and placid channels flow together (sitdsite sarite yatra sangatc) 
brought great merit. Sarayu is the Gogr# in Oudh. The town of Ayodhya, 
as now, was situated on the bank of this river 8 .' It rises in the mountains of 
Kumaon and after its junction with Kalinadi it is called the Sarayu or Sarju, the 
Gogra or Dewa. Kalidasa eloquently dwells upon the merits acquired through 
a bath at the confluence of this river with the Ganges near Chupra in Bihar 9 . 
Sarasvatt rises in the hills of Sirmur in the Himalayan range called the Siwalik and 
emerges into the plains at Adi Badri in Ambala and is lost again in the southern 
sand. It is reckoned as one of the most sacred rivers of the Hindus. It falls 
after appearing and disappearing several times in the sand into the Gulf of Kutch. 
It is supposed by poets to flow under the surface of the Earth, and join ultimately 
the ocean. The JLgveda represents it as flowing into the sea 10 , but later legends 
make it disappear under ground and join the Ganges and Jutrma at Allahabad. 
It was to the bank of this river, Kalidasa observes following the tradition of the 
Mahdbharata, that Balarama repaired at the commencement of the Bharata war 11 . 


The Sone, rises from the tableland of Amarkantak, about five miles east of 
the source of Narbada, and running northerly and then easterly for five hundred 
miles falls into the Ganges above Patna. The confluence has been referred 
to by Kalidasa 12 as also Puspapura 13 (Pataliputra or Patna), the metropolis of 
Magadha, which once stood at the confluence. Mahdkosfh the joint stream formed 
by the seven Kosis of Nepal, which are the Milamchi, the Sona Kosi or the Bho- 
tea Kosi, the Taniba Kosi, the Likhu Kosi, the Dudha Kosi, the Arun (l?adma 
Purdna, Svarga, ch. 19; Mabdbbdrata, Vana Parva, ch. 84) and the Tamar 14 . Of the 

1 Ibid., VIII. 95. 2 Ibid., X. 26, 69, XIV. 3. 
* Ibid., VII. 36. * TOTOtftatV Ibid., IV. 36. 

5 Ibid., VI. 48. 

8 Ibid., VI, 48, XIII. 54-57; M.P., 51; Vik., II. 14. 

'R^*., XIII. 54-57- 

Ibid., 6 1, XIV. 30. 

Ibid., VIII. 95. 

10 Max Mullen Rgyeda Samhita, p. 46, Commentary. 


., vn. 36. 

M Ibid., VI. 24. 

M Tamra of the Mababharata, Vana Parva, Ch. 84. 


seven Kosis, the Tamba or Tamar, and Likhu are lost in the Sona Kosi and the 
Barun in the Anin 1 . The river Mdlint flows through the district of Saharanpur 
and Oudh and falls into the Gogra about fifty miles above Ayodhya. It is the 
Erineses of Megasthenes. The hermitage of Kanva, the adoptive father of 
Sakuntala was situated on the bank of this river 2 , about thirty miles to the west of 
Hardwar'and called Nadapit in the Satapatha-BrahmntP. According to Lassen 4 
the present name of the Malini is Chuka, the western tributary of the Sarayu 5 . 

ManddkinJ was originally the name of an arm of the Ganges in one of the 
valleys of the Himalayas; afterwards it became like many natural objects situated 
within the geographical limits of the Himalayan range, the name of a heavenly 
river, or rather or the Ganges itself before it descended from svarga upon the 
Earth. Mandakini is a name that usually signifies 'the river of the air or heaven' 
(the Ganges or a feeder of it before it reaches the plains); but it is also the name of 
an actual river which is otherwise known as the Kaliganga or the Western Kali 
or Mandagin, which rises in the mountains of Kcdara in Garhwal. It is a tri- 
butary of the Alakananda and thus a subtributary of the Ganges itself. The river 
Mandakini has been referred to at several places, namely the Raghuvawscfl, iheKawa- 
rasambhava 1 ^ the Vihamorvasi* (flowing through the Gandhamadana mountain), 
the Mdlavikdgnimitrd*, and the McghaduttF*. The Mandakinls of the Vikramorvati 
and the Meghadnta are evidently the same, i.e., either the Ganges before it 
descends on the plain 11 or more probably, the Kaliganga, otherwise known as 
Mandagin, a tributary of the Alakananda. The Mandakini of the ^aghwamsa is 
assuredly the Mandakin, a small tributary of the Paisuni (Payasvim) in Bundel- 
khand which flows past the Mount Citrakut. Kalidasa also refers to it as 
flowing by the Citrakuta \\\\[ (Mandakini bhdti nagopakanthe). From the Puspaka- 
vimana the Mandaknl witfy its limpid and serene currents of water, appearing thin 
on account of the intervention of a long distance, looked like a pearl necklace 
hanging from the neck of the Earth near the mountain 12 (Citrakuta). The 
Manaokkini of the Mdlavikdgmmitra is undoubtedly a different (a third) river, 
perhaps one of the Deccan. It is very probable that it may here stand for the 
Narbada, in conformity with a practice, still very common all over India, of 
designating any sacred river by the most sacred river name. This suggestion 
is strongly corroborated by the fact that the Nirnayasagara edition of this 
work actually reads nammaddtire for manddimdlre^. 

1 JASB., XVII, p. 644, note. 

2 J*&, pp. 21, 87; III, 4! 

8 XIII. 5,4, 13 (SBE.,XLIV, p. 5 99)- 

4 ///., Ant t> II, p. 524; Ramayafta y Ayodhyakanda, ch. 68. 


XIII. 48. 

71. 29,11. 44> HI. 65. 

8 ^iMldU Act IV. p. 87. 

9 Kale's edition, Act I. 

10 Uttara, verse 4.- 

11 It seems to have been so used at least once in the Kw., II, 44. 
18 Ra&bu., XIII. 48. 

13 M3i., p. 9. i* Ibid., Kale's edition. 


Tatnasd has been mentioned by the poet in three contexts, twice in canto IX 
(20,72) and once in canto XIV (76) of the Ragbuvawfa. The first two allusions 
are made evidently to the same river as they refer to almost the same context, 
In the first is preserved a panegyrical record of DaSaratha who had decorated the 
banks of the Sarayu and Tamasa by erecting myriads of golden sacrificial 
posts 1 . The second alludes to the same king entering the neighbouring forests for 
hunting, obviously proceeding parallel to the river and emerging on the bank of 
.Tamasa crowded with ascetics 2 . This Tamasa is no other than the river Tonsc, 
a branch of the Sarayu (Gogra) in Oudh, which flowing through Azamgarh, falls 
into the Ganges near Ballia (U.P.). It flows twelve miles to the west of the 
Sarayu and is itself called by that nama (Sarju) at Ballia and in the neighbouring 
locality. The bank of the Tamasa is associated with the early life of Valmiki 3 . 
The third reference to this river is made in connection with Sita's exile 4 . 
The difficulty presents itself when we proceed to identify this river. It is 
evidently a river distinct from the Tonsc we have discussed above inasmuch 
as it is reached after crossing the Ganges 5 . Now it cannot be the above one as 
it lies between Ayodhya and the Ganges and flows at a little distance from Ayodhya 
and the distant Ganges need not be crossed to reach it. Then we know only 
three Tonses, viz. (i) one we have already referred to; (2) the river Tonse 6 in 
Rewa in Central India; and (3) the Tonse in Garhwal and Dchradun 7 . The 
junction of this last named river with the Jumna near the Sirmur frontier was a 
sacred place where Ekavira, called also Haihaya, the progenitor of the Haihaya 
race and the grandfather of Karttavlryarjuna was born 8 . The possibility of the 
first of these rivers is already discarded. The third Tonse, the western feeder 
(in Garhwal) of the Jumna flows in too distant a place where Sita could have 
been sent, in view, firstly, of her advanced stage of pregnancy 9 ; secondly, of her 
going on a mere pleasure trip, thirdly, of the absence of night-fall during the 
drive, the journey to that distance being expected to be completed in several 
months; and, finally, because we have to locate the hermitage of Valmiki on its 
bank (the Ganges intervening between it and Ayodhya) which we know from the 
Ramayana 10 , and probably also from the TLaghuvawSa (which places this hermitage 
on the way of Satrughna proceeding to kill the demon Lavana from Ayodhya to 
Madhupaghna 11 , identified by Growse 12 with Maholi, five miles to the south-west 
of the present town of Muttra, the city of Lavana, whom he kills 13 and whose 

fa., IX. 20. 

l dH*U Ibid., 72. 
8 Ramayana, Bala. K. ch. 2. 
4 Ragfut., XIV. 76. 
6 Ganges crossed in the ~&aghu., XIV. 52. Tamsa reached in Ibid., 76. 

6 Matsya P. ch. 114: Ramayana, Ayodhya K. ch. 46. 

7 Calcutta Review, LVIII (1874), p. 193. 

8 Devi Bhagavata, VI, chs. 18-33. 

9 Raghu., XIV. 26, 27, 45, 71. 
10 UttaraK.,ch. 58. 

u Rajjfnt. 9 XV. 15. *TPN*dK. . . .TF*fHWT>R 'bid., n. 
12 Mathura, pp. 32, 54. 
., XV, 24-25. 


city he demolishes and builds instead Madhura 1 , i. e., Mathura, modern Muttra), 
to be no other than Bithur, fourteen miles from Cawnpour where "Slta, the wife 
of Ramachandra, lived .......... " and " ........ gave birth to the twin sons, 

Lava and Kusa. The temple erected in honour of Valmiki at the hermitage 
is situated on the bank of the Ganges (&dmayana. Uttara, ch. jS) 2 ." So 
it cannot be the Tamasa which is meant here because Mathura, which is 
reached in the story after the hermitage of Valmiki, is left farther on 
this side of Ayodhya than the Tamasa of Garhwal whereas it should 
have lain beyond the river ! Now the second river alone remains which should 
have been identified with the Tamasa of the 'Kaghnvamsa, XIV.76 but for a few 
difficulties. Even if we concede, in spite of the great distance from Ayodhya to the 
Ganges in view of the fact that Slta is in an advanced state of pregnancy and 
there occurs no night-fall during the drive, that Laksnkna with Slta crossed the 
Ganges at some point near Allahabad or Benares to reach either the vicinity of 
Chitrakut or that of Mirzapur, we must take into account the facts that firstly, 
there was no hermitage of Valmiki in the neighbourhood of either and secondly, 
Satrughna would have to take an unusually circuitous route to reach Madhupa- 
ghna visiting Slta on his way. From Ayodhya to Mathura the route would be 
direct. And Satrughna would indeed go by the shortest cut for his mission was 
an urgent one, that of saving the lives of sages from the ravages of Lavana 3 , the 
act of protection being considered the principal duty of a king. Therefore this 
Tonse also could not be the river Tamasa of our reference. Is it possible that 
Kalidasa's knowledge of geography was inaccurate on this point, or is it that 
this Tamasa was some other stream close beyond Bithur and the neighbouring 
Ganges the ancient name of which has been forgotten ? But in this latter case 
also the point of distance stands in the way of a proper identification of this river. 
Surabhitanayd) is the Chambal. It has its source in a very elevated point of the 
Vindhyas amongst a cluster of hills called Janapava 4 . The river is said to have 
been formed by the 'Juice of skin' (blood) of the cows sacrificed at the jajna 
of Rantideva 5 . The poet's reference to this river embodies the tradition of the 
Mahdbhdrata*. The river VetravatJ is the Betwa in Bhopal, an affluent of the 
Jumna, on which stands Bhilsa, the ancient Vidisa 7 . Sindhu is the river Kali- 
Smdh in Malwa called Daksina Sindhu in the Mahabbdrata* . Nirvindhya is a 
tributary of the Chambal between the rivers Betwa 9 and Smdh 10 in Malwa. It 
has been identified with the Kali-Smdh 11 in Malwa but this identification does not 
seem to be correct as Kalidasa's Sindhu appears to be the Kali-Sindh. There- 

1 Ibid., 28. 

8 Dey: The Geo. Die. p. 20. 

8 JEU^.,XV. 2. 

4 Dey: The Geo. Die., pp. 48. 

Droria Parva, ch. 67. 

8 Vana Parva, ch. 82. 

'-M.P., 24. 
10 Ibid., 29. 
u Journal of the Buddhistic Text Society, Vol. V, p. 46. 


foie the Nirvindhya should be identified with the Newuj, another tributary of 
the Chambal between Betwa and Kali-Sindh. Gambhlrd is a tributary of the 
Sipra in Malwa. The Gandhavati is a small branch of the Sipra on which the tem- 
ple of Mahakala is situated, 1 Sipra is a river in Malwa on the bank of which Ujjam 
stands. It is a tributary of the Chambal and is still known by its ancient name. 

Laub/tya is the Brahmaputra, which, according to Kalidasa 2 , formed the wes- 
tern boundary of the kingdom of Pragjyotisa, modern Assam. 

Kap'Sd* has been correctly identified by Pargiter with the river Kasai (Cossya) 
which flows through the district of Midnapur in Bengal. It formed, during the 
time of Kalidasa 4 , the northern boundary of Utkala and Kalinga. Tamluk is 
situated on the bank of this river. 

The above mentioned rivers with the exception of the Sindhu and the Lau- 
hitya, are either main streams or tributaries to main streams or affluents to such 
tributaries, all Watering the Gangetic plain as also a great part of Central India 
and the Central Provinces. 

The rivers of peninsular India, unlike those of northern India, rise m the 
hills of the great plateau and are fed by the monsoon rams. Owing to the gene- 
ral slope of the plateau, the rivers rise from the Western Ghats and flow towards 
the Bay of Bengal and the eastern sea. The poet mentions the following penin- 
sular rivers, namely the Narmada, Rcva or Gautami, Varada, Godavarl, Kaverl, 
Tamrapaini and Muiala. 

The Rtf/'a, otherwise called Narmada^ and Gautaml* (and even Mcmddkim wt> we 
hive already seen above), is the Narbada which rises in the Amarakantak moun- 
tain and falls into the gulf of Cambay. Kalidasa makes it flow through the forests 
of the jambu 7 and naktamak 8 trees. The Varada is the Wardha in the Central 
Provinces and a tributary of the Godavarl. Agnimi tra fixed this river as the boun- 
dary of the two kingdoms parted out of Vidarbln 9 . The river Godavarl bus its 
source in Brahmagin, situated on the side of a village called Tryambaka about 
twenty miles from Nasik. Karm is the river Cauvciy of south India which rises 
from a spring called CardratlitHa in the Btahmagiri mountain in Coorg. Bhava- 
bhuti tells us that the slopes of the Malaya mountain are encircled by the river 
Kaverl 10 . The Tamraparnl, locally called Tambaravari, is the united stream of the 
Tambaravari and the Chittar in Tinnevelly which rise in the Agastakuta moun- 
tain. It is celebrated for its pearl-fishery which has been referred to by Kali- 
dasa 11 while describing its junction with the sea. It is a small but well-known 
river flowing past Pallamcotta and falling into the Gulf of Manar near the small 

., IV. 8 1. 
8 Ibid., 38. 
4 Ibid. 

6 Ibid., V. 42-46. 
f fofc.,p. 42. 


8 H^gte., V. 42. 
Mtf.,V. 13. 

10 Mahavfracarita, V. 3 . 

11 R^gte., IV. 50. 


town of Punakail. Here the poet speaks of the union of the sea and tne rivet, 
his wife, leading to the production of the pearl treasures which constitute the glory 
of the land 1 . The river Murald is difficult to identify. Nundo Lai Dey identifies 
it with the river Mula-mutha, which, he says, rises near Pcona and is a tributary 
ofthcBhlma. 2 But thjs identification appears to be untenable as this river flows 
through Kerala which is more or less the coast of Malabar. The entire western 
strip of the south is divided into three parts, viz. the northern part from Daman 
to Goa called Konkan, the southern part, Kerala, and the coast of Karnatak lying 
between the two 3 . Thus the river must be traced somewhere in the region of 
Malabar, which is Kerala, for assuredly this is a river flowing in Kerala 4 . Kerala 
comprised Malabar, Tra van core, and Kanara 5 terminating at Cape Camorin on 
the south and Goa on the north. It is the country of the Nairs. It is some times 
used as synonymous with Chera 6 . In fact, Kerala is the Kanarese dialectal form 
of the more ancient name of Chera 7 . The Murala therefore cannot be the same 
as the Mula-mutha and must be looked for in the region of Malabar. 


The only non-Indian river which is referred to by Kahdasa is Vanksu which 
has been identified by K B Pathak 8 and S. Knshnaswami Aiyangar 9 with the 
Oxus. The verse in which the name of the nver'occurs is the following: 

VinitadhvaSramas tasya Variksr tlraviccstana ih 

Dudhuvur vajmah skandhanl lagnakunkumakesaran. 'Raghu., IV. 67, 

"His horses relieved of the fatigue of the journey by rolling on the banks 
of the Vanksu, shook their bodies which had saffron flowers clinging to their 


Now the principal difficulty in the identification of this river has arisen by the 
fact that Mallinatha, the most brilliant commentator on the works of Kahdasa has 
chosen to read Sindhu for Vanksu. But in view of some very important reasons, 
given below, Mallinatha's reading is evidently erroneous. It is to be borne in 
mind that six manuscripts of the &aghta>amSa, out of nine, with their commentaries 
read vankS (four of these) or vanksu (two). There hardly seems an occasion 
for Mallinatha to adopt the reading Sindhu. This reading has landed him in 
obvious difficulties which he has sought to explain away. The unsuitability 
of his reading is so patent in his own explanation that, thinking that his readers 
would easily confuse Sindhu with the great river Indus, which, he is sure, is not 
the one meant by the poet, he seeks to defend himself by calling it a certain diffe- 

* 7% GM. /< p. 734, 

8 Vidyalankfcra: Bbaratabhiimi., p. 84. 

Rgta., IV. 54-55- 
5 Eu5mayana t Kikmdh Kanda, ch. 41. 

Rapson: Ancient India, p. 164. Indian Coins, p. 36; Bhandarkar: History of the Dekkan, 
Sec. III. 

7 Hunter: Imperial Gazetteer of India, 5. V. Chera. 

8 jL<4., 1912, pp. 265, fF; Meghadiita, Introduction, p. VIII. 

9 LA., 1919, pp. 65. ff. 


rent river flowing through Kashmir, Sindhwnama KaSwlradeSesu ka&innadavUesah, 
Obviously this mistake has been occasioned by the occurrence in the same verse 
of the phrase kunkumakesaran. Perhaps being unaware of the fact that there was 
another locality in the vicinity of Kashmir which produced excellent saffron, and 
being a native of south India, he had, it is apparent, known only of Kashmir to 
be a land yielding saffron. He has quoted the AmarakoSa "*atha kunkiwan 
Kashmir ajanmc? ityamarah" and has easily become oblivious of the error due to 
'the occurrence of the name of Kashmir in that admirable lexicon. Although, 
if he had cared, he could have found m the commentary on the same Amarakosa 
by Ksirasvami (the second half of the eleventh century) another word for saffron 
vdhllkam signifying the product of a country called Vahllka, i.e., Bactna. Ksi- 
rasvami while explaining the word in his commentary illustrates it by alluding 
to the conquest of Raghu as follows: Vab&kadefajatv (vdblikaw^^yadraght/ruttara- 
digivljaye dudhnvnrvdjmah skcwdhdnUagnrtkunkuwaLesardn^. This commentator writ- 
ing about three hundred years before Mallmatha was nearer the event and its tradi- 
tion than one who flourished about a millennium after them. Vahllkadcsa or 
Bactria was rightly supposed by Ksirasvami to be watered by Vanksu or Vaksu 
of which Vankuwt \ 7 akku y according to Prof. Pathak, are but Prakrta or corrupt 
variants. All these four words are the names of the self-same river. Vallabha, 
who flourished in the ist half of the twelfth century, i.e. about two hundred 
years earlier than the celebrated Mallmatha, and who was a native of Kashmir, had 
no such ambiguity in this regard and he readily accepted the usual readings of 
Vanksu or Vankfi. He knew too well that close to his own home in the basin 
of the Oxus there was cultivated the saffron plant the yellow pigmehts of 
which stuck to the manes of the horses of Raghu's cavalry. He explains Variku 
or Vanksu as Vankunamnfnadi tasydstire*. Thus the conclusion from the 
cumulative evidence of both Ksirasvami and Vallabha is that Raghu encounter- 
ed and defeated the Hunas in Bactria, the valley of the Oxus. 

The word Oxus is the Greek variant of the name of the river. Now consi- 
dering that in Greek the letter s at the end of a word is superfluous and o corres- 
ponds to va we easily get the word Vaksfrin Sanskrit and Vakkum Prakrta. Here 
Prot. Pathak suggests that the sign for doubling being mistaken for anusvdra the 
word would be pronounced Vanku. The Sanskrit form with a superfluous nasal 
would be pronounced Vanksu. The Chinese evidence also points to the same con- 
clusion for the word Pochu or Fochu for Oxus, only phonetic transcription of 
Vaksu, presupposes the Indian original Vaksu or Vakku mispronounced Vanksu 
or Vanku. Besides, it may be noted, that in both the St. Petersburg Lexicon and 
the Dictionary of Sir Monier Williams Vanksu or Vaksu has been equated with 
the name of the Oxus. Here we may also note that a scribe is more likely to 
mistake an inland stream for a foreign one and is obviously therefore less apt to 
bring in a Central Asian river if it were not meant by the poet. 

Now having identified Vanksu with the river Oxus we must proceed to locate 
it more precisely, for the Oxus is a tremendously big river which rises near the 

1 K. G. Oka. Edition of the KjJrasvamt, p. no. 

2 RagbuvamJa by S. S. Pandit, notes, p. III. 


Pamirs and lazily winding its course through Central Asia reaches the Aral Sea. 
Our Vanksu we must identify with one of the severd feeders of the Oxus, pro- 
bably with one of the two Waksab and Aksab in the upper reaches of 
the Oxus. Between these two streams lay Khuttal of the Arab geographers, 
which Tabaj i calls Haital 1 . This Waksab of the Arabs is apparently the Vanksu 
of Kalidasa which is by far the greatest tributary of the Oxus 2 . To its east in 
the semicircular bend of the Oxus lay Wakh-khan on the frontiers of Kashmir but 
on the farther side of Karakoram. "There is but a narrow strip of country at the 
foot of the Pamir between the upper course of the Indus, the sources of the Oxus 
and those of the Yarkand river, which in mediaeval times formed the road of 
communication between Turkistan and Tibet. The junction of the Wakshab 
is reached from Balkh by a road going into the territory of Khuttal, a little to the 
east of the junction 3 , and if Kalidasa had any roadway in this region in his mind, 
Raghu's march must have taken the road that Alexander took, up to Balkh and 
then turned north-eastward from BaJkh, through Badakshan and Wakh-khan to 
the frontier of Kamboja, instead of the slightly north-western toad which led into 
Sugd, the Sogdiana of the Greeks 4 ." 

The river of the text having been identified with the * Wakshab' of the Arabs 
another point, that of the location of the Hunas in the valley of the Oxus and their 
occupation of Bactria naturally conies m for discussion, but this may be dealt 
with in its proper place. 


Kalidasa gives several vivid descriptions of the confluences of a few rivers 
which we have already referred to above. They may be enumerated below again 
for the sake of clarity. The poet has shown particular partiality in describing the 
confluence of the Ganges with the Jumna at Prayaga. First he makes a metapho- 
rical reference to it m his RagbwaritJa*, VI. 48, and then he goes in raptures over 
its sight at the Triveni while giving its description later in canto XIII, 54-75. 
The poet asserts that a bath at this confluence results in enormous merit and that 
there is no more birth for the bather even without the attainment of tattvajndna* . 
Further reference to this confluence has been made in the Meghaduta 1 and the 
Vikramorvati* and in the latter case there is an allusion also to a city 9 standing at 
the confluence. This city can be easily identified with Pratisthana, i. e., modern' 
Jhunsi, the capital of Pururava. The poet sees in the meeting of the armies of 
Aja and those of his adversaries the confluence of the Ganges with Sona now about 
twenty miles above Patna where the turbulent waters of the latter rush furiously 

1 Tabari put Zolenbei^g, II. p. 128. 

2 The Hun Problem in Indian History, I. A., 1919, p. 69. 

3 L. Strange: The Land of the Eastern Caliphate, ch. 'The Oxus.* 

4 The Hun Problem in Indian History, I. A. 9 1919, p. 69. 

Ibid., XIII. 58. 
7 *FJ5mm ALP,, 5 1. 
a IL 14; Ibid, p. in. 

Ibid., p. 121. 


against and are calmly received by those of the former 1 . The importance of the 
confluence of the Ganges with the Sarayu (Gogra) near Chupra, Bihar, has been 
brought out in a verse 2 which says that the death at this spot could win for a 
man the rank of the gods and Aja's case has been illustrated to bear out the point. 
We read of waterfalls 3 in the similes of the poet and in actual descriptions 
of streams flowing in mountains. The Himalayas 4 abounded in such waterfalls 
and the Rtusamhdra records mountains and hills as full of them. 5 

The poet seems to allude specifically to two great waterfalls, namely, the 
Gangdprapdtcfi and MahdkosJprapdta? It is difficult to identify them with any 
measure of accuracy. Of course, they lay respectively in the courses of the Gan- 
ges and the Mahakosi in the Himalayas. The poet locates the hermitage of 
Vasistha in the Himalayas 8 and does not seem to follow the tradition of the &#///#- 
jana in this respect. But it is difficult to identify this hermitage m the Hima- 
layas. Likewise it is not possible to identify the Mahakosiprapata. The river 
Mahakosi is the joint stream of the seven Kosis of Nepal. The seven rivulets 
are united first into three streams which meet together in their later course and 
form a Tnvcnl of the Tamar, Arun and the Sora Kosi. Trivcni is immediately 
above Varaha-ksetra in Purnea above Nathpur at a point where or close to which 
the united Kosis issue into the plains. 9 The Mahakosi should thus fall some- 
where near about the TrivenI but Kahdasa would seem to place it in the Kailasa 
range as in his description it is by this fall that Siva awaits the return of the Seven 
Sages who went to Himalaya, the father of Parvati to negotiate for the marriage 
of Siva with his daughter. 10 And since the Sages had first approached Siva on 
the Kailasa where they left him, the Mahakosiprapata may be expected to fall 
near the Kailasa itself; but it is difficult, however, to identify it precisely. 

The hill of Citrakuta was noted for its waterfalls. 11 


The country abounded in inside lakes and in those lying on the mountains. 
The poet makes frequent references to them 12 describing them as crowded with 
birds and full of lotuses 13 and aquatic creatures. 14 They ate called by various 

VIT. 36. 

2 Ibid., VIII 95. XIV. 3. 
Ibid., II. 13, 26; VI. 60, XIII. 47, XIV. 3, to., i, 15, VI 33, CV1II. 31, Rtn , IF. 16. 

* Raghu., II. 13, 2.6, XIV. 3; to, I 15, VI 33. 

* RMI. 16. 

6 Rag/fa., II. 26. 

'to., VI. 33- 

8 cf. Raghu., II. 26. The entire scene is laid m the Himalayas. 

9 /. S. A. B.> XVII, pp. 638, 647, map at p. 761. 

10 to., VI. 33. 

11 qKltcH'X'nft R ^*-> XIII. 47- . 

12 Ibid., I. 43, 73, II. ft, 16, III 3, VI. 26, 86, VII. 30, IX 59, XI. n, XIII. 27, 30, 40, 60, 
XIX. 51, to., IV. 39, VIII, 32, 35, M.P., II. 62. 

18 Raghu., VI. 86, XIII. 60, M.P., 62, 
14 &gfar., VII. 30. 


names, for example, sara, 1 sarasl, 2 hrada 3 and palvala 4 (ponds). Three lakes 
have been specifically mentioned by name. They are: the Manasa, 5 otherwise 
named Brahmasara, 6 Pampa 7 and the Pancapsara. 8 

The Manasa is the celebrated lake, better known as the Mansarovara, in the 
Kailasa range of the Himalayas. It is said to be the favourite haunt of flam- 
ingoes emigrating to its shores at the commencement of the monsoons. 9 
"Those birds," says Moorccroft, "find in the rocks bordering on the lake an 
agreeable and safe asylum when the swell of the rivers in the rains and the in- 
undations of the plains conceal their usual food 10 " This lake is mythologically 
supposed to grow golden lotuses which fact has been twice 11 stressed byKalidasa. 
In like manner the poet fancies that the Yaksas of Alaka used gems 12 for lamps 
and the children of the Vidhyadharas played with the golden 13 sand of the Manda- 
kini. It is, therefore, quite fitting that the poet's imagination should refer to 
uncommon flowers to which birds of the uncommon species like the rajahamsas 14 
and rajahamsis, 15 their female counterparts, should flock. But it is not impro- 
bable that the poet here alludes to a rare species of the lotus bearing the golden 
yellow colour. 

The Pampd is situated in the district of Bella n on the north of the town of 
Hampi ond close to the river of that name, 16 which is a tributary of the Turiga- 
bhadra and rises in the Rsyamukha mountain, some eight miles from the Ana- 
gandi hills. 17 The water of the Pampa is described as covered with the thickets 
of cane plants growing on its banks and the brisk cranes discerinble through 
them. 18 The lake Pancapsara is difficult to identify accurately. The List of 
Ancient Monuments in the Chota-Nagpur Division locates it in the district of Udaya- 
pur, one of the tributary states in Chota-Nagpur. Kapu, Bandhanpur, Banji- 
amba and Ponri, according to this list, are supposed to be on, the site of this 
lake. But this identification seems hardly correct. It should lie somewhere 
to the north-cast of Paficavati at a considerable distance from AgastyaSrama. 
Pancavati is generally identified with Nasik and, according to Kalidasa, the her- 

i Ibid., VI. 86, XIII. 40, 60. 

2 Ibjcl.,I,43. XI ii,X*.,VIII. 32. 

3 %4gbn. 9 I. 73, VII. 30, K*., IV. 39. 

4 R^//., II. 1 6, III. 3, IX. 59, XIII. 27, XIX. 51, Ktt , VIII. 35 

B IUd.,VI. 26. 

6 Ibid., XIII. 60. 

7 Ibid., 30. 

8 Ibid., 38-40. 
M.P., n. 

10 Journey to Mansarovara, The Asiatic Researches, XII. p. 466. 

11 &te. 9 XIII. 60; M.P., 62. 
ia T^hr: M.U., 5. 

18 M4>Rl4Kll Af .17., 4. 

u., VI. 26. 

16 VC Json: Uttarardmacarita y Ramayapa Kiskmdba K. ch. i. 

17 Bombay Gazetteer, Vol. I. pp. II. p. 369 Dr. Fleet's Dynasties of the Kanarese Districts. 



mitage was situated within the Pancavati itself 1 and must be either Agastipurl, 
twenty-four miles to the south-east of Nasik, 2 or Akolha to the east of Nasik. 8 
Next to the AgastyaSrama but at a considerable distance so as to appeal like the 
full moon through the clouds 4 lay the lake Paficapsara. It must lie somewhere 
between the Pancavati, i.e. Nasik and the Citrakuta hill 5 nearer to the former 
than to the latter as there were certain other localities 6 lying between this lake 
and the Citrakuta hill according to the description of the poet. We must also 
remember that it lay at a visible distance from about Nasik (AgastyaSrama) and 
so must not have been situated very far from there. The identification of the 
Ust of Ancient Monuments in the Chota-Nagpur Division cannot hold ground in 
view of the fact that through its location the lake would not lie between the 
Pancavati and Citrakuta, or rather the latter would lie between the Pancavati 
and itself I And it would be on unnecessarily circuitous way to take from Nasik 
to Ayodhya via Chota-Nagpur even for a possible aircraft. The Bhagavata 1 
places it in southern India and the Caitanya Caritamrta* at Gokarna, while Sridha- 
rasvami 9 would locate it near Phalguna or Anantapura in the Madras Presidency, 
fifty-six miles to the south-east of Bellary, but none of these identifications seems 
to be correct as they all lie to the south of the river Godavari whereas the lake 
Pancapsara must be placed somewhere to the north of the Godavari as the aerial 
car has taken a north-easterly direction from Nasik. 10 The lake has been des- 
cribed by the poet, following the tradition of the ^.dmdyana^ as the pleasure-lake 
of the sage Satakarni, 11 who, while living on the darbha grass, was enticed into 
the snare of nymphs by Indra. 12 The sage was supposed to live in a palace 
under the water of the lake from where the sound of singing and tabor always 
emanated and was audible outside. 113 This obviously is a traditional refer- 

Seas and Oceans. 

India skirted on the south, west and east by the sea, was isolated by it on the 
south as by the mountains on the north. References to the sea and the precious 
marine products 14 are too many to mention. Similes abound in allusions to 
the sea and the poet uses several synonyms for it which may imply much marine 
activity in the land during his time. Without specifically distinguishing the 


2 Dey: The Geo. Die., p. 2. 
8 Rjafftayana, Aranya K. ch. 1 1. 
4 Ragbu., XIII. 38. 
6 Cf. Ibid., 34-47. 

6 Ibid., 41. ^iT^r . r^fterf, 46- 

7 Book X. ch. 79. 

8 Quoted by Dey in his Geo Dtc., p. 147. 

10 JLzgft.,XIII. 34-47. 

11 Ibid., XIII. 36. 

12 Ibid., 39. 

13 Ibid., 40. 

Ibid., XIII. 9. 


extent or nature of the seas he uses terms like samudra* sagara? arnava* maho- 
dadh'i^ amburdti? toyanidhi* ratndkara? payodhi* and many more. The creatures 
living in the sea and the marine conflagration have been mentioned. 9 Every- 
where while touching the sea the coast-line is described as lined with the forests 
of palms 10 of various kinds, date, 11 betel-nut 12 and cocoanut 18 trees. The tidal 
rise of the sea on the appearance of the full moon 14 is recorded. 

We find mention of the eastern 16 and western 16 seas referring respectively 
to the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. The great Indian Ocean of the south, 
the northern waters of which form the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian sea, has 
been vividly desaibed. This is preserved in the thirteenth canto of the ~R.aghu- 
vamfa (1-18) and may be quoted in full. 

Whales on account of their mouths being open having taken in the water 
at the mouth of rivers, together with the aquatic creatures in it, toss upwards 
by closing their jaws the streams of water through their perforated heads. 17 The 
foam of the ocean severed into two parts by the hippopotamuses that jump up 
all of a sudden above the surface of water the foams that on account of their 
gliding by their cheeks become their flywhisks for a time. 18 The shoals of 
conchshells with their heads transfixed at their jutting points, being dashed at 
once by the force of the billows against the reefs of corals glide way with great 
difficulty. 19 The strand of the briny ocean resembling an iron wheel which is 
dark on account of the row of tamala and tali forests, and which appears like a 
slender line owing to distance, looks like a thin coating of rust formed on the 
edge of a steel wheel. 20 On the coast of the ocean heaps of pearls are lying 
scattered being thrown out by the oysters, that have opened their shells on the 
strand and there the rows of betel-nut trees are bent down under the weight 
of their fruits. 21 

The last verse evidently seems to refer to the mouth of the Tamraparni, 

1 Ragfw., II. 3, III 28, XIII. 14, Kit., VIII. 91; Sak., p. 237, etc. 

2 R^;/., T 2,111. 9,1V. 32. 

Ibid., IV. 5, 3, VI. 56,63. 

4 Ibjd.,III. 17. 

8 Ibid., VI. 5 7, XIII. 2, 

6 //.,!. i. 

7 R^gA., Xffl. i. 

8 Ibid, 17, 

9 #., VIII. 91; ch., Raghu., CII1. 4. 

10 H*#&#., IV. 56, XIII. 15. 
Ibid., IV. 57. 

Ibid., IV. 44, XIII. 17. 

" Ibid., IV. 42. 

M Ibid., HI. 17. 

15 <Tt*rPR B^., IV. 32.; yiYMOcfU<fr*ft Ku., I. i; cf. *fofe., p. 237. 

16 K*., I. I, jitt., p. 237, |H4m|U|<i; &a & hu., IV. 5 3, 

17 Ra&fo.> XIII, 10. 

18 Ibid,, ii. 
Ibid.,XIIL 13. 
10 Ibid,, 15. 

21 Ibid,, 17. 


celebrated for its pearl-fishery. The graphic description of the marine creatures 
and their characteristics obviously bespeaks of the poet's own experience of the 

Seasons (climate and rainfall}. 

Here we may refer briefly to the poet's treatment of nature, his descrip- 
tion of the seasons, climate and rainfall. In the 'Ktusamhdra a description of the 
six seasons of India occurs. The description is vivid and graphic. The poet 
seems to be in direct communication and loving sympathy with nature, which 
opens to him, as though, in the minutest details its secrets and pleasures. There 
is a human touch, a living sentiment in his regard to nature. "The seasons are 
of course," says Dr. Kejth, "the Indian seasons and especially of Hindustan 
proper. The scenes are all such as may be seen in the patriarchal life, which 
the learned Brahmanas of the time led, all belonging to the forest such as those 
described in the Saktmtala. The poet does not like the English poet Thomson, 
wander into the Frigid and Torrid zones to describe the chill severity of the 
one or the horrors of the other, but sticks to his own native seasons. 1 " The 
description of the poet also incidentally gives an idea of the climate, winds and 
rainfall of the country. The following are the names of the seasons, six in 

1. Nidagha Kala, 2 the hot season consisting of the Jyestha and Asadha, 
corresponding roughly to June and July. 

2. Varsa Kala, 3 the rainy season consisting of the months of Sravana and 
Bhadrapada, corresponding roughly to August and September. 

3. Sarat, 4 the Autumn season, the months of Avm and Kartika, running 
roughly over October and November. 

4. Hemanta, 5 the cold season, the months of Margasirsa and Pausa, corres- 
ponding roughly to those of December and January. 

5. Si6ira, 6 the cool or dewy season, comprises the months of Magha and 
Phalguna, corresponding roughly to February and March. 

6. Vasanta, 7 the spring season, the months of Caitra and VaiSakha, corres- 
ponding roughly to April and May. 

The following is a succinct account of the various seasons as gathered from 
the works of the poet mainly the JLtusatihara : 

The Hot Season. 

In the hot season the sun grows hot 8 generating fierce heat, the moon 

1 A History of Sanskrit 'Literature. 
*Rtu. y I. i. 
8 Ibid., II. i. 

4 Ibid., III. i. 

5 Ibid., IV. i. 

6 Ibid., V. i. 
7 Ibjd.,VI. i. 
8 Ibid., I. i. 


pleasant, 1 and the evenings turn delightful. 2 People cool themselves by means 
of fountains, 8 various jewels, 4 flower wreaths 5 and sandal-wood paste 6 in the 
nights of summer wherein "the masses of darkness are dispelled by the moon. 7 " 
Excessive perspiration necessitates a change from the heavy garments to thin 
silk. 8 The heat is sought to be further allayed by the use of fans wetted with 
sandal water. 9 Columns of dust are constantly raised by the strong gusts of 
wind. 10 Water is mostly dried up. 11 Although this description is applicable 
to almost all parts of India except places on high altitudes, yet the picture is 
most suited to the central Indian plateau. 

The Rainy Season. 

The rainy season is conspicuous with dark clouds rumbling with thunder 
and dazzling with lightning 12 and hanging low with the weight of water. 13 Pas- 
tures grow up 14 , and the indragopa insects cover up patches of ground. The 
forest regions are full of fresh verdure. 16 Those of the Vindhyas are decked 
with the trees bearing new foliage and full of numerous kinds of dark-green 
grasses which have put forth tender shoots. 17 Lotus plants drop off their leaves 
and flowers. 18 Mountains are covered all over with waterfalls; 19 and swelling 
rivers, regularly fed with heavy torrents of rain, rush forth in sharp currents. 20 
The bamsas fly along with the tendrils of lotus for their food to the Manasa 
lake in the Kailasa 21 

The following plants and flowers are in abundance in the rainy season: 
ketakl, 22 kandali, 23 bakula, 24 malatl, 25 yuthika, 26 kadamba, 27 sarja 28 and arjuna. 29 

1 Ibid. 

2 Ibid. 

8 Ibid., 2. 
4 Ibid. 
B Ibid. 

6 Ibid. 

7 Ibid. 

8 Ibid., 4. 

9 Ibid., 8. 
^Ibid., 10. 

11 Ibid., 22, 23, etc 
" Ibid., II. i. 
"Ibid., 3, 19 
" Ibid., 8. 
16 Ibid., 5. 

16 Ibid., 5, 8, 

17 Ibid., 8. 
Ibid., 14. 
Ibid., 16. 

a <Ibid., 7 . 
& Ibid.. 23. 
M Ibid., 17,10. 
M Ibid., 5. 
** Ibid., 24. 
M Ibid. 
* Ibid. a7 Ibid., 1 7, 20. 28 Ibid., 1 7. 29 Ibid. 

CHAPTEfe I *9 

The picture is conspicuously of Central India. 1 
The Autumn. 

With the advent of the autumn season the breeze blows cool, the quarters 
look beautiful because of the disappearance of clouds, the water loses its tur- 
bidity, mud dries up, the sky has the clear-rayed moon, and is beautiful with the 
stars. 2 The sky during the day is grey blue, 3 the few clouds get white like sil- 
ver 4 and the night having the innumerable stars, the moon free from the obscur- 
ing clouds, and the bright moonshine, grows longer daily. 5 The forest regions 
are covered with the flowering saptacdiada trees, 6 the gardens with the malatls 7 
and fields with the ripening paddy. 8 Lakes look lovely by the presence of the 
infatuated pairs of swans and the bright blooming white and blue lotuses. 9 Dew 
falls. 10 

The autumn, says the poet, holds out peculiar facilities for carrying on a 
military campaign and thus actuates a conqueror to undertake an expedition. 
The beasts of burden, the bulls especially, are now in full spirits, the war ele- 
phants in their ruttish condition are eminently fitted for fighting, the rivers become 
fordablc and the roads being dried up afford easy passage to troops. 11 

The following have been noted by the poet as the companions of this 
season: saptacchada, 12 kovidara, 13 bandhujiva, 14 bandhuka, 15 kankeli, 16 kaa, 17 
sephahka, 18 syama, 19 malati 20 , kalama 21 and Sail 22 lotuses 23 of various kinds 
and the cranes. 24 

He mania. 

The cold season approaches with the appearance of new sprouts and the 
ripening of corn. 25 Lotuses perish. Snow falls 26 on the altitudes of mountains 

1 Seveial references to the Vmdhyns of R/// , II 
2 R///., Ill, 22, 23. 

3 Ibid , 5 

4 Ibid., 4 

5 Ibid., 7. 

6 Ibid., 2. 

7 Ibid. 

8 Ibid., 1 

Ibid., II. 
10 Ibid., 1 6. 
11 R^//., IV. 22-23. * \ 

12 IL/#., III. 2, 13. 

13 Ibid., 6. 

14 Ibid., 24. 
"Ibid., 5,25. 
"Ibid., 18. 

17 Ibid., i, 2, 26. 

18 Ibid., 14. 
* Ibid., 1 8, 

20 Ibid., 2, 18, 19. 

21 Ibid., 5. 

22 Ibid., i, 19, 1 6. 

28 Ibid., 15. 24 Ibid., 16. 2B Ibid., IV. i. 26 Ibid. 


and dew drops in profusion 1 in the plains. This season has mostly the 
flowering lodhra, 2 priyangu, 3 kadamba, 4 rice-crops 5 and kraunca. 6 


In the cool or dewy season the earth is covered with clusters of 
paddy and sugarcane, and resounds with the cries of kraunca birds, 7 People 
resort to the use of the interior of the house with the windows closed, of fire, 
of the sun's rays, and of thick garments. 8 


The spring comes with young mango blossoms and swarms of bees. 9 
Everything gains added beauty in this season. Trees put forth flowers, waters 
grow lotuses, winds blow fragrant, evenings are pleasant and days delightful 10 
The falling of dew stops. 11 Numerous rocks are covered with thick Saileya. 12 
"The male cuckoo, intoxicated with the liquor of the juice of mango-blossoms 
kisses with passionate joy his mate; the humming bee, too does agreeable things 
for his beloved. 13 " The priyala 14 and kimsuka 15 flower and the atimukta creeper 16 
puts on a new robe of blossoms in this season. The characteristic features of 
the spring arc 'the notes of the cuckoo, the southern wind, the fragrant mango 
blossoms, the red asoka's splendour, the kurabaka flowers, darkish and white 
red, the tilaka flowers and the bees. 17 ' The madhavi, also called Vasanti, is the 
spring creeper which flowers and bears sweet floral juice in summer. Its bower 
is in full bloom in this season. Its bunches look like so many bouquets. 18 By 
alluding to the love of the cuckoo and the bee the poet shows that not only the 
mankind but the whole creation is under the influence of love in this season. 19 
It brings to all nature new life and joy. 

From the above description of the seasons it will be evident that the summers 
were fiercely hot and winters excessively cold and that the rainfall was abundant. 
There were occasional hail storms 20 in the plains and snow-falls 21 on the mountains. 

1 Ibid., 7. 

2 Ibid., i. 
8 Ibid., 10. 
4 Ibid., 9. 

6 Ibid., IV. 1,8. 
8 Ibid., 8, 18. 
Ubid., V. i. 
8 Ibid., 2. 
Ibid., VI., i. 

10 Ibid., 2. 

11 Ibid., 22. 
"Ibid, 25, 

Ibid., VI. 14. 

*., VI. 19,20,28. 
Ibid., 17, 
lf Ibid., 28; Mai., HI. 5. 

18 J&., p. 200. 

19 /#., VL 2, 14. 

44* n **> IV. i, 18. 



Kalidasa alludes frequently to clouds. In the Meghaduta the cloud is made" 
the bearer of a message from the hero of the theme to his wife. The cloud has 
been defined as a 'compact mass of smoke, light, water and air. 1 ' It has been 
supposed to be of many kinds one of which the class of the Puskara and Avar- 
taka has been entrusted in the Meghaduta* with the affectionate message of 
the Yaksa. Besides, we read of certain phenomena connected with the clouds. 
The appearance of the rainbow, 3 the rumble of the thunder 4 and the flash of 
lightning 5 have been noted and so have been mentioned the hail-storm 6 and 
the snow-fall. 7 

2 id., 6. 

3 Ibid., i5,R/#,II 4 
*A/.J>., 9. U, i. 
6 ML7., i, II. 1,4, ii. 


V T, 18 



Now, when the population of India has grown enormously and has settle'd 
over a large area of land, the natural vegetation hss been removed by man to a 
great extent. There are, for example, few left in the Gargetic plain which was 
once full of primeval forests. But in the hilly regions, and in the less thickly 
populated parts, much of the natural jungle still survives. The impression that a 
study of the works of Kalidasa gives is that the country was covered with large 
belts of forests (yanas*). The plants that vegetated in these forests and in the 
well-kept parks and flower gardens 2 may be discussed below. 

Plant life may be divided among several classes, namely trees 8 , both tall and 
small, shrubs, Osadhis*, climbers (latd*, valffi\ or creepers spreading on the 
ground (pratdncP\ grasses 8 , both lofty and short, and aquatic plants floating on 
the surface of water or growing in reeds along the banks of rivers or swamps 
of lakes and ponds. 

Trees have been referred to as belonging to various territorial parts and 
climes. They may be classed as those vegetating on the highlands of the 
Himalayas, those growing on the dry uplands, mountains and in the alluvial soil 
of the plains, those lining the seacoasts and those wildly inhabiting the Malaya 
region of the south. 

The term Osadbi has been used both in a general 9 sense for lower plants and 
in a specialized bearing. This latter class represents firstly, those herbs which 
are supposed by the poet to be phosphorescent and which illumine their neigh- 
bourhood with their oilless light 10 , and, secondly, those herbaceous plants which 
possessed medicinal properties, whether curative 11 (sanjitani) or destructive. Visa- 
vallt 1 * is a poisonous climber; Mcihausadh'i^^ which means sanjivani, revitalizing, is 
such a herb and was supposed to restore life; Apardjitd 1 ^^ again, was a particular 

t., I, II, IV, V, IX, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI; Kn. I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, 
VIII, Af. P., and V\ R/#,, $ak. I, II, III, VII; Vik., Mai, V. 
' M. P., 8, M. P. 23. K*., II, 35, 36; Ragbu., XIV, 30. 
3 Ragb. 9 1, 45, V. 69. 

* Ibid., IV. 75, VIII. 54, IX. 70, X. 66, XIL 61, XIV. 80; JO/., I. TO, 30, VI. 38, 43- 

5 Ragbu., II. 8, III. 7, VI. 64, $ak., I. 15, Ibid., p. 27. 

6 Ragbu., VI. 64, XII. 61. 

7 Ibid., II. 8. 

8 Ibid., 5. V. 9;R/*.,L 25. 

Ragb.> IV. 75, VIIL 54, 1. 70, X. 66; Ku., I. 10. 

10 Ragbu; IV. 75; Ktt. 10. 

11 *^>rfa Jfcif.. XIL 61. 
"Ibid, (ftrotft) 

18 Ibid., " ,&*., p. 249. 


herb worn on the wrist or arm as a charm to save oneself from danger 1 . These 
must have been included in the second class. Osadhis have been defined by 
SuSruta as those herbs that wither after fructification 2 . The]' are, in the ordinary 
sense, the herbaceous plants bearing fruits with or without flowers, and dying or 
withering away after fructification. The osadhis, according to Cakrapani, the 
commentator on Caraka, are subdivided into (i) annuals or perennials bearing 
fruits, and (2) plants that wither away after maturing and without fructification, 
like the diirvd*. 

We have several references to lata^ and one to pratdncf*. Creepers, plants 
with herbaceous stems, are of two kinds those turning and voluble and those 
others creeping on the ground. According to the Manusariihitd* the creepers 
twining round and climbing a tree or a support are called ra///s, while those 
spreading on the ground proscumbcnt and document pratcwas. Susruta 7 
adds a third, gulmini^ succulent. 

Of the trees growing over mountain altitudes the poet mentions the deva- 
daru 8 , sarala 9 and the bhurja 10 . Dwadaru y Cedrus hbam, variety clcodara, is the 
gigantic pine of the Himalayas. "At this same elevation/* says F. C. Ford 
Robertson, Deputy Conservator of Forests, United Provinces, "roughly between 
5,000 and 8,500 feet you will find the graceful deodar, holy tree of the Himalayas 
along with its humbler companion, the "Kail or blue pine, both, but particularly 
the more durable deodar, prized fot their timber. Unfortunately they grow 
only in quite small areas to the north-west (chiefly Chakrata side 11 )/' It is 
interesting to note that Mr. Ford Robertson quotes Kalidasa while referring 
to the deodars: "See yonder deodar, the adopted child of Shiva. As from her 
breast was nurtured the war god Skanda, so hath she tended it with nectar 
welling from a deep-bosomed pitcher of gold 12 ." According to the poet this 
tree grew also on, and in the vicinity of, the Kailasa mountain, as he depicts Siva 
sitting in contemplation under it. 13 But it looks like a conventional description 
and Kalidasa does not appear to be geographically correct on this point because 
deodar gr6ws at an elevation roughly between 5,000 and 8, 500 feet 14 whereas the 
Mount Kailasa is over 23,000 feet high and remains perpetually snow-coated 
where little vegetation is possible. Below is mostly the region of the birch which 
grows at an altitude between 10,000 and 14,000 feet 15 . Sarala^ Pmus deodara, is 

1 Ibid. 

2 Siitraflhana, I. 36-37; cf. Ibid. 23. 
8 Majumdar: Upavana Vinoda, p. n. 

4 Rag/to., II. 8, III. 7, VI. 64; Sak. 9 I. 15, ibid. p. 27. 

5 Ra&tt., II. 8. 

6 I. 46-48. 

7 Majumdar: Upavana Vinoda, p. 12. 

Raghu., II, 36, IV. 76; K*. 9 I. 15, 54, HI- 44, VI, 31. 

feghr., IV, 75; Kx., I. 9; M. P. 53- 
^Rag/to. IV, 73; Ki 9 I. 7. 55; K/','pp. 44>5M* 

11 Our Forests^ p. 37. 

12 Ibid., p. 37 (cf. Raghu., II. 36.) 

13 KM., III. 44. 

14 Robertson: Our Forests, p. 10. 15 Ibid. 


another variety of the Himalayan pine whose resin has been noted by the poet as 
producing fragrance 1 in the locality and whose branches rubbing against one 
another have been supposed to cause forest conflagration 2 . Bbtsrja, Betula species, 
is the birch tree growing at an altitude of about 13,500 feet 3 . "With these two 
conifers", observes Mr. Ford Robertson, "are associated chestnuts and maples, 
and towards the tree limit (13,000 feet to 14,000 feet), birch, rhododendron and 
willows, the whole finally yielding to bleak Alpine pasture (bugial) in the shadow 
of the eternal snow 4 ." Thus above the ground slopes growing the pines there 
lined the birch trees and above them there shone the eternal snow. The birch 
trees, imagines the poet, furnished the Vidyadhara belles with their leaves 
to write their love-letters on 5 . The leaves of this tree were extensively used in 
ancient India for writing purposes and even to-day we come across hundreds of 
manuscripts finished on them. Prtyala, explained by M011matha 6 as.rajadana on 
the authority of the A.marakosd* has been located in the Himalaya region, and so 
also Nanwru* as we shall see below. 

The lower slopes of the Himalayas, the deccan plateau and the Indian plains 
grew endless varieties of trees of which those mentioned by the poet may be noted 
below. Of these the bigger variety may be dealt with fiist. The first in order of 
girth come the CaitycP trees. The poet does not specifically mention which trees 
came under the class of the Caitya tree's, but the Sdroddhdnnl^ Stwi(itivijaya> and 
ethers think the term Caitya to signify 'sacred trees like the pipal 10 / This class 
may have included the vata and the plaksa trees, besides the asvattha or thepipal, 
to which references have been made elsewhere. The asvattha, Ficus religiosa 
or the religious fig tree, is a mighty tree which bears a species of fig fruits and 
serves many religious purposes of the Hindus. Vata^ Ficus mdica, and plaksa^ 
are the varieties of the banyan tree which bear a kind of the fig fruits and yield 
a resinous milky juice from their bark. They afford abundant shade. In the Hindi 
vernacular they are respectively known as bara and pdkara. Another species of 
the fig tree has been mentioned by the name Uduwbara. This tree has been 
alluded to a:? covering the Devagin hill between Ujjami and the Chambal 14 . Sal- 
;;A/// IS , Bombax malabaricum, is commonly known as the silk-cotton tree, which 
produces a kind of cotton generally used in India for stuffenng purposes. "You 

I. 9. 

. . 

*M. P., 53- 

3 Robertson: Our Forests, p. 10. 

4 Ibid. 

6 ST^M^foUltflHMVl*^ # ! 7- 

8 fai|Mj|*H <MKH<fSTT K*; HI. 31 (Commentary). 

7 THKH: fa<4m. ^TTcT Ibid. 

., IV. 74;&?,I. 5 5, HI. 43- 
, 23. 

itf&*., xni. 53. 

Ibid., VIII. 93. XIII. 71. 

13 Af. P., 42, 

14 Ibid., c before and after. 
16 /*., I. 26. 


who read this", remarks Mr. Ford Robertson, "may possibly be unable to recog- 
nise a sal or chir tree. But you will undoubtedly know that common desi way- 
farer, the semal or 'cotton' tree> if only by the buttresses supporting its smooth grey 
bole, its stiffy-angled branches, and the crimson fleshy flowers and cottony seed pods 
it scatters so freely along the spring roads. At maturity a large and stately tree, it 
can grow almost 200 feet high with a girth of 1 5 feet at a point 30 feet above ground 
(Coorg) you can readily imagine what magnificent beams its long clean stem 
must furnish. And you would be quite wrong. It is not just that the wood, one of 
the lightest and softest in India, lacks the necessary strength and durability, because 
large planks are made of it, serviceable packing casts and even 'dug-out* canoes 1 ." 
Another variety of this tree called kutas&lnwlfi has been alluded to. It is supposed 
to be the weapon of Yama 3 , the god of death. Saptacchadcfi or saptaparntfi^ 
Echites scholans, is a tree having seven leaves onus stalk. It sends forth a strong 
ruthke scent from its flowers 6 . It is a big tree providing ample shade 7 . It grew 
wildly in forest regions 8 and flowered in the autumn season 9 . NaMertP* is like- 
wise a large umbrageous tree affording abundant shade. It has won the name 
of chaydtaru* 1 because of its dense shade. Kalidasa generally 12 makes it an inhabitant 
of the higher altitudes of the Himalayas and places it in the vicinity of the birch 
and sarala trees 13 and on the Kailasa mountain 14 but the word chdydtaru has been 
explained by Mallmatha 15 on the authority of the Sabddrnavd^ as the nameiu tree, 
which would place it even in the plateau of Deccan,^ Sa/a l7 y Shorca robusta, is 
very tall and stately 18 and the strong smell of its exudations overpowers that 
of other flowers 19 . It was otherwise called sarja^ and has been prominently 
mentioned as growing on the way from Ayodhya to the hermitage of Vasistha 
in the Himalayas 21 . They grew, as now, in- the Gangetic plain Sar/sa 22 , Mimosa 
sinsso, is a tall tree which blossoms in summer. Its flowers were a great 
fevourite of Indian women of the poet's time. 

1 Robertson: Our Forests, p. 37. 

2 R^#., XII. 95. 

8 Ibid., cf. also Mallmatha's comment on it. 

4 JLsjgi*., V. 48; R/#., II. 2, 13. 

6 E^w., IV. zx'SaJk., p. 38. 

6 Rnghu., IV. 23, V. 48. 

8 Rto., III. 2, 13; Raghu, V. 48. 


&gfe., IV. 74; #., 1.55, III. 43. 

11 M. P., I. Vide Mallinatha's comment : sjpTT^Sft 'PH? ^TTcf Sabdarnava. 

* &&*., IV. 24; K*. 9 I. 155, HI- 43- 

18 Cf. R^gfa., IV. 73-75. 

" *.,!. 5 5, HI- 43- 
16 M. P., I. comment. 

16 Ibid., 

17 &&*., I. 13, 38, XV. 78. 

18 *IMS||$T Ibid., I. 13. 

19 Ibid., 3*8. 

20 R/., II. 17, III. 13. 

21 Vide K^gto., I. and II. 22 Ibid., XVHI. 45; K*-> I- 4; M I- 4- 


Amra 1 , also called cuta 2 and sahakdrcP, Mangifera Indica, is the well-known 
mango tree which produces the sweet mango pickles. It is a favourite of Kal 
dasa as of all Sanskrit poets and he dwells very frequently on the romance of the 
lovers being enhanced by the advent of the bees and the cuckoos in tlie spring 
which make their haunt in the flowering mango tree which intoxicates them. 
Although this tree must have been a common sight everywhere its existence has 
been particularly noted on the summit of the Amrakuta (Amarakantak) mountain. 
The top of the mountain is mentioned as covered with ripe fruits of the tree- 4 , 
it may be added that the mountain derives its name from its association with the 
mango tree. Jambu 6 , Eugenia jambolana is the big rose-apple tree commonly 
known as the Jaman. It grew wildly in the Central region of Malwa and to the 
south of it. The Narbada flew through a grove 6 of this tree and the entire border 
of forests in the Daarna country looked black due to its ripened fruits 7 at the 
advent of the rains. Madhtika* Bassia latifolia, is the common mahua with its 
strong smelling flowers with which wine was scented 9 . Tintidi**, Rindus Indica, 
is the big tamarind tree with its sour fruit. It takes thirty years from the day of 
its planting to bear fruit. 

Naktamdla* 1 , Caesalpinia bonducalla, grew m abundance, says the poet, 
along the course of the Narbada. It is the same as karanja, a vigorous tree of 
the Dcccan and Chota-Nagpur. Samp*, Mimosa suma (Prosopis spicigera), is 
supposed by the Sanskrit writers to contain latent fire in its wood. Kalidasa 
reiterates this belief in his expression, agnigarbhdsam'i^. The story as to how 
this tree came to be endowed with hidden fire is narrated in the Puranas. 
AJoka 1 *, Saraca Indica (Jonesia asoka), otherwise known as kankelt 1 * is another 
favourite of Kalidasa. This with its species of raktdsokcP, the red-asoka, is a 
slender, tall and graceful tree. Sir William Jones observes that "the vegetable 
world scarce exhibits a richer sight than an Asoka tree m .full bloom. 
It is about as high as an ordinary cherry-tree. The flowers are very large, and 
beautifully diversified with tints of orange scarlet, of pale yellow, and of bright 
orange, which form a variety of shades according to the age of the blossom 17 ." 

1 R/w., VI. 23; Af. P., 18. 

*Raglw.> VII. 21; R///., VI. 1,3,15,30. 

3 Raghu., VI, 69; R/*., VI.22, 26,27,34. 

*Af. P., 1 8. 

5 Ibid., 20,23; f'*-. P- 97- 

M. P., 20 

7 Ibid., 23. 

8 R/a/w., VI, 25. 

9 Vide Mallihatha's comment on Ku., III. 38. 

10 .&*., p. 70. 

13 RagbH. t V. 42. 

12 Ibid., VI. 26; ?&, IV. 3. 

Afc, IV. 3 . *fa*nrf *nflr 

14 Ragbu., VrtL 62; Mai., pp. 43,46; IE. 12; Rttt., VI.5,i6. 
15 R/#., III. 18, vide comment. 

16 M U. 15, Mat., III. 5. 

17 Works, Vol. V. 


It was a poetical belief that the agoka tree blossomed only when struck by the foot 
of a lady with jingling anklets which is borne out by the poet's description of 
several dohadas 1 or the acts of striking the tree in order to put forth flowers. This 
dohada is a favourite theme of the sculptors of the Kusana and Gupta periods of 
which many instances carved in high relief may be witnessed among the exhibits 
of the Muttra Museum. The tree blossoms from the root and all over its body 2 . 
AsancP^ Terminalia tomentosa, is a most adaptable and therefore a wide-spread 
tfee growing gigantic in rich valley alluvium but squat and stunted on hill clays. 
"Despite uncertain durability and a proneness to splitting," observes Mr. Ford 
Robertson, "it has a considerable market for building purposes, and more 
recently, for floor-boards of railway waggons, and over three lakhs of cubic 
feet are exported every year. 4 ." Arjuncfi^ Terminalia arjuna, otherwJbe known 
as kakubha*^ is a species of the teak tree. Sallakt* (ialfaki*\ Boswcllict semta, 
is also called gajabhaksa in Sanskrit as elephants are very fond 9 of it. Its juice 
is sweet like liquor 10 . It is found plentifully in Khandesh and othci parts of 
the Bombay Presidency. L0dW u , Symplocos crataegoides, is the lodh tree. It 
blossoms in winter and has red or white flowers. That with white ones is a tare 
variety. The dust of the red flowers of this tree was used by women of ancient 
India to render their lips reddish pale 12 . The tilaka^ tree was celebrated for its 
beautiful fragrant flowers appearing in the spring. It has been frequently alluded 
to by the poet. Kadt/wba 1 *, Anthocephalus kadamba, is supposed to put forth 
buds on the roaring o thunder clouds 15 . Thus it blooms in the rainy season and 
bears fruit as large as the small apple. The fruit is ripe in the rains. A red variety 
of it was called raktakadambcfi*. N/pa^ 7 ordinarily supposed to be the same as 
kadamba, is Nauclea kadamba and slightly different from the common kadamba. 
It is a species of the same tree but is surely not the same as is evident from Kali- 
dasa's referring to it in the same line with the kadamba 18 . Aksa, Terminalia bal- 
crica, is a tree of the seeds of whose fruits rosaries are made. Aguru^h the fragrant 

1 Ragbu., VIII. 62, M. 17., 15; Mai, III (entire Act). 

2 R///., VI. 1 6. 
8 R^#., IX. 63. 

4 Our Forests., p. 39. 

"' Ragfa., XIX. 39; R/#., II. 17, III. 13. 

fi Af. P., 22; Rtu., ii. 12. 

7 Ku., VIII. 33. 

8 Vik.* IV. 44. 
*Ku., Vm. 33. 

10 Ibid., 

11 Raghu., II. 29; M. 17., 2; Rtu., IV. L VI. 33. 

12 M. 17., 2. 

18 R*;6*., IX, 41, 44; Ku., III. 3 fl, VIII, 40; M3l., III. 5. 

14 Rag/k*. 9 IX, 44, XIII. 27, XV. 99; Af. P. 25, R/#., II. 17,2, 23,24. III. 8, 13, IV. 9. 

15 M P., 25. 

16 Vtk., IV. 60. 

17 Ragfa., XIX. 37; M. P. 21; R/#., II. 17, VII. 13. 
18 R/., III. 13. 

19 Raghu., XIII. 43; Ku., III. 46. 20 R/*., V. 12. 


aloe tree and kaldguru 1 a black variety of the same. The latter grew in abundance 
in the country of Kamarupa 2 . Kaliyaka*, like sandal, is a fragrant wood. Kura- 
baka*, Barlena Cristala, is a species of amaranth. * This plant blossoms in the 
spring 5 , and has richly coloured flowers that take long m withering. Its crimson 
species is the raktakurabaka*. Afaota 1 is the walnut tree bearing an oily nut 
called akhrot. It abounded in the country of the KamboJ9s 8 . lngudfi,> Ximema 
aegyptiaca (Terminalia catappa), is a wild tree commonly called ing/a, from the 
fruit of \frhich oil was extracted, which ascetics in hermitages used for their lamps 10 
and ointment 11 . It was otherwise known as tdpasataru^ the anchorites' tree. It 
is a medicinal tree and its fruits are supposed to possess prolific efficacy and 
necklaces made from them are used as a charm for children. Vijapuraka^^ the 
same as mdtulungaka, Citrus medica, is a citron tree. The bark of the fruit was 
chewed to undo the smell of liquor. Its fruit was considered auspicious and 
worthy of presentation 13 ; it may be seen held in the palm by some of the images 
of the Muttra Museum as an auspicious object. 

A smaller variety of trees and flower plants were the following, namely, 
kutaja u , vikafikattF*, stftdhuvdra^ \ bandhujlvcF* or bandhukd^^ kcttnikdra, 
koviddra, kalpadrumd^, pdrijdta 22 , manddra^^ santanaka^, bakula** or ' 
kusumbhcfi 1 ., kimiuka** or palasd**, kadall^ and 

1 Ragbu., IV. 81, XIII. 55. XIV. 12; M. U. 44; R///., II. 21, IV. 5, V. 5 , VI. 13. 

8 R/., IV. 5', VI. 12. 

4 R^#., IX. 29, Af. L7. s 15; R///., III. 10, VI. 13; ?. p. 192. 

fi R///., VI. 1 8. 

<' A&/, p. 39. 

7 Raghu.> IV. 69. 

8 Ibid. 

9 Ibid., XIV. 81, $ak. I. 13, IV., 13, p 73. 

>., XIV. 81. 

18 MB/., pp. 35,36. 
13 Ibid. 
U R^A*., XIX, 37; M. P., 4, R///., III. 13. 

16 K., III. 53. 

17 &?&*., XI. 25; K^., VIII. 40; R///., HI. 24. 

18 R/#.,IIL 5,25. 

19 #., III. 28, 53; R///., VI. 5, 20, 27. 

20 R/#., HI, 6. 

21 Ragbu., i. 75, VI. 6; K*., VIL 39, VI. 41, II. 26. 

22 R4gfo., VI., 6; 1G/., VIII. 27; Vik., II. 12. 
R^gA*,, VI. 23; M.U. 4. 

24 &*., x. 77; . vi. 4 6, VIL 3 . 

26 R^g^., VIII. 64, IX. 30, XIX. 12; R/*., II. 24. 

28 Ragbu., IX. 36; Af. U. 15, ?*. p. 30. 

37 /*., L 24, VI. 4. 

28 R^*., IX. 31; Rtu.y VI. 19,20,28. 

20 R^gAir., IX., 51; J&., III. 29. 

?0 Rtf^., XH. 96; Ku,. I. 36; M. P. 13. 

81 R^M., XIII. 2 ? ; Af. P. ? 215 R/., II. 5; Vik. t IV. j. - 


Of these kutajcr* Holarrhena antidyscnterica (Wrightca antidyscnterica) 
blossoms in the rainy season* Vikankata is a sacred tree of the wood of which 
ladles were made 1 . Sindhuvdra> Vitex trifolia, is the same as nirgundi 2 . Ban- 
dhuka or bandhufiva, Pentapetes phonicea (Ixora coccinea), yields red flowers. 
Karnikdra^ Hibiscus mutabilis, flqwers in the spring. It bears red flowers of 
excellent hue but without smell. Koviddra^ Bauhinia species, is a tree with 
delicate.branches flowering in autumn. Kalpadruma or kalpataru was an imaginary 
tree of Indra's heaven yielding everything desired. Three of the five classes 
of this tttzparijata, tnanddra and santdnaka arc alluded to by the poet. 
Parijata^ Erythnna Indica, is the same as harisrngara; manddra^ Erythrina fulgeus, 
is the same as manar. Bakula or kesara, Mimusops elcngi, bears a strong 
smelling flower and is very ornamental in pleasure gardens. Kxsumbha, Carthamus 
tmctrorms, yields red flowers used in colouring. J&mfukct or Prf/Jjy?, Butca 
frondosa, is ordinarily the common palasa, but palasa proper is the redder species. 
Both the varieties bear beautiful flowers but without smell. They arc a 
common sight growing wildly in the vicinity of Fyzabad and they abound all 
over the Gangctic plain. Kadall, Musa sapientum, is the common plantain tree. 
Y^andali is a plant, whose leaves are green, which dries up in the hot season and 
then all at once makes its appearance at the beginning of the rains. An 
imaginary tree, asipatrcP (with leaves like swords), has been referred to as 
growing in the patala, the nether-world. 

Trees growing m saltish soil m belts of forests lining the sea-coast were 
tali* ekcttdlcfi^ rdjatdlfi, pilga { \ purwdga*^ kharjfircP, kharjftrt and ndrikelaP-. 
These are the different species of the palm tree. Ta/7, talipot palm, is a species 
of the mountain palm, which lined the sea-coast of Kaliriga 12 and the Cape Como- 
rin 13 ; ekatala, Borossus flabelliformis, is the palmyra tree; rdjatdti is perhaps the 
same Kspiiga^ Areca catechu, and bears arcca or betel nut chewed with betel leaves. 
This has been described as growing on the east coast, in the Malaya region 14 
and along the Cape Comorin 16 . Kharjura or kharjfirt, Phoenix sylvestris, is 
the date tree located by Kahdasa on the west coast along Kerala and Aparanta 16 . 
funndga^ Catophyllum inophyllum, is ordinarily supposed to be the same as the 
ndgakesarcF but botanically the latter is known by a different name, Mesua fer- 

u., XL 25. (23). Vide comment of Mallinatha on Ku., III. 53. 
2 Ragfa., XIV. 48. 
8 Ibid., IV. 34, XIIL 15. 
4 Ibid., XV. 23. 

6 Ibid., IV. 56. 

Ibid., IV. 44. VI. 64, XIIL 17. 

7 Ibid., IV. 57. 

8 Sdk.^ p. 70. 

&&*, IV. 5 > 

10 Ibid., 42. 

11 Ibid., 34. 

12 Ibid., XIIL 15. 
18 Ibid., VI. 64. 

14 Ibid., XIIL 17. 

15 Ibid., IV. 57- 

3 g q ^ | Jj ufl H 1 4 1 4^K> Comment by Mallinatha on R^gte, IV. 57, 


rea. Kalidasa has mentioned the locality of this tree to be" the coast of Malabar 1 . 
Dr. Roxburgh, however, thinks that it is a native of the Coromandal coast. Nari- 
kela is the cocoa-nut tree which has been mentioned as abundantly growing 
along the coast of Kalinga 2 . It may be noted here that the Awarakofa classes 
the Palmaceae (including the cocoa-nut, date, areca and other palms) as tree-gras- 
ses, probably because, like the grasses, they are endogens characterized by 
spikes and parallel veins (trnadrumdti)? \ 

The Malaya region abounded in the fragrant sandal wood. CandaricP 
Sirium myrtifolium, is a kind of large myrtle with pointed leaves. Its paste was 
much used in toilet in ancient India 5 . Its fragrance is supposed to harbour 
snakes among the roots and on the trunk of the tree 6 . It grew wildly in the 
Malayasthali along with 'the tambula creeper, the cardamom plant and the puga 
and tamala trees' 7 . The sandal tree had a red variety called raktacandancfi \ 
Tuavanga* is the clove tree and it grew, besides the area of Malaya, in the 
neighbouring islands 10 of India. Tamala 11 is another tree with big leaves. This 
region also produced the cardamom, Alpinia cardamomum(V/J 12 ),and the black- 
pepper (marJcP) plants. It may be noted that cloves, cardamom and black-pepper 
were used as food spices as now. 

Plants and Creepers 

Besides the above flower-bearing trees, the poet mentions the pata/a 1 -*, 
Stereospermum suaveolnes, which bears a wild trumpet flower and the ketaka^ or 
ketakt^i Pandanus odoratissimus, which is a green plant with needle-pointed blades 
for leaves, bears a strong smelling flower and is otherwise known as keora. ^fas- 
mine which comes under the gulma (shrubs) class of Susruta's classification 17 , 
had several kinds, both shrubs and creepers, many of which have been mentioned 
by the poet. Kunda ls , one of the Jasminum species, is a similar shrub, white 
and delicate, while Kaundt 1 *, otherwise known as M^gAFand flowering two months 
before the spring, is a creeper. Other species of Jasmine are the following, 

. IV. 57. 
2 Ibid., IV. 42. 
8 ef AmarakoSa 
* Kagbu., IV. 48, 51, VI. 64; R/#., I. 4, 6,8, II, 21, III. 20, V. 3, VI. 6. 12, 32. 

5 Ragbu., IV. 48. 

6 Ibid., VI. 64. 

, p. 65. 
r., VI. 57, VIII. 25. 

Nul: Ibid., VI. 51. 


10 Ibid., VI. 64, XIII. 15,49. 

11 Ibid., IV. 47; VI. 64. 
Ibid., IV. 46. 

18 R/., I. 28, ?., I. 3. 

14 &**., VI. 5 7J M. P. 23. 

15 R/#,, IL 17,20,23, 26; Mi/, p. 82. 

16 Gmja Prasanna Majumdar: Upavana Vinoda, p. 1 2 
?*., IV.,*, VI, 13, ji. 


vi2., juthika 1 or jfithikd*, mallikd*, or navamdhha* or vanajyotmd* and mdlat'P. 
Sydma*, Echnocarpus frutescens, otherwise known as phaliriP, and priyatigu, 
Agbia Roxburghiana, is a creeper much favoured by Sanskrit poets. It has been 
compared with the body of a woman 9 on account of its delicacy and thinness. 
It bears white flowers and is supposed to blossom at the touch of a woman 10 . 
Mddhavi 1 *, Gaerthera racemosa (Hiptage madhavalata), bearing white flowers, 
is a spring creeper to which constant allusion has been made by Sanskrit 
poets. It flowers and bears sweet floral juice in summer. Of all these creepers 
the atimuktalatd^^ Aganosma caryophyllu, has received the highest attention 
and praise from Sanskrit poets. Sir Wiliam Jones has aptly observed: "The 
beauty and fjagrance of the flowers of this creeper give them a title to all 
the praises which Kalidasa and Jayadeva bestow on them It is a gigantic and 
luxuriant climber; but when it meets with nothing to grasp, it assumes the form 
of a sturdy tree, the highest branches of which display, however, in the air their 
natural flexibility znd inclination to climb 13 ." The syama, mad havi and 
atimukta creepers furnished beautiful bowers. Another class of creepers is 
represented by one called lavaK 1 *. Tambulavalli^ is the betel creeper the leaves of 
which with the areca nut, catechu, caustic lime and spices were chewed as a carmi- 
native and antacid tonic, expecially after meals, and for undoing the bad odour 
of liquor. It grew wildly in the Malaya region 16 . Drdksd was the vine creeper 
which spread itself on ground and covered the land of the Paraslkas 18 . Much 
wine was prepared from it 19 . Besides the above ones the poet speaks of a few ima- 
ginary creepers like the eldlata 1 ^^ asokalatd^^nA samillata^ due to the delicate bole 
of the trees they indirectly represent. Kalidasa incidentally hints at a distinction 
between the two varieties of creepers, namely, \htndyanalata^ and the 

1 Ibid., IV, 46, Af. P z6 

2 R/*., II. 24 
8 R/.,IIL 1 8, VI. 5. 

4 $dk.y p. 31. 

5 Ibid, PP. 31, 137. 

6 R/#., II. 24. III. 2, 19; Ma/, p. 36. 

7 R/., III. 1 8; Af. 17. 41. 
*Ratffi., VIII. 61. 

Rtu., IV. 10, VI. 12; Mai p. 48, II- 6. 

10 M. 17., 4i;R/*., IV. 10; Af*/., II. 6. 

11 $Sk. 9 III. 7 j Mai. III. 5- 

12 R/*., VI. 17, Mai, IV. 13; S3*., p. 95. 
18 Sir William Jones: Works, Vol. V. p. 124. 

14 Vik., V. 8. 

15 Ragbx., VI. 64; R/#., V. 5. 

16 Ragtw., VI. 64. 

17 Ibid., IV. 65. 
* Ibid. 

"Ibid., IV. 65,61. 

20 Ibid., VI. 64. 

21 Ibid., VII. 21. 

23 SaJk., p. 27. 

28 Ibid., I. 15. , 

24 Ibid, 


the garden and forest creepers respectively. The creepers like fyamaj madhavi 
and the atimukta would appbar to belong to the former class as we learn of their 
bowers being furnished with sitting slabs 1 while the tambulavalli and the like 
to the latter. There are a few more plants to which a brief reference may be made. 
They are the arkcfi, ciimpakcP^ sephdlikd*, silindhra^Japdpuspa*, and the kunkuma*. 
> Gigantic Asclepias, Calootopis gigantea, is a large and vigorous shrub. 
ftka^ Michcha champaca, is a plant bearing yellow fragrant flowers. Sephd- 
^ Nyctanthes arbortistis, is a shrub having white flowers. Siltndhra is a mush- 
room, fcnuel, a fnl plant much resembling an umbrella and growing and with- 
ering in the rainy season. Japa, Hibiscus rosasmenses, is the flower plant called 
the China rose. Kunkuma is the saffron. The ^.tusamhdra tells us how ladies 
used to besmear their breasts with the saffron paint in the months of Hemanta, 
Siira and Vasanta 8 . 

We shall now make a reference to the kind of grasses mentioned. There 
are allusions to trnas^ or grasses, saspa or young grass v te#Wtf n or tract abounding 
in grass, ttantba or a clump of grass and to kandagard^ or straw. Of grasses 
there are 1 several varieties on record. The most important of them is ktcakcP* 
or vathfd^i Dcndrocalamus strictus, the common bamboo. It is a sort of giant 
grass which is actually so considered (tranadhvajaK) by ancient writers 16 . Kali- 
dasa locates kicaka mostly in the mountaneous, regions like the Himalayas 17 , 
where wind passing through their holes produces melodious music. But the 
rarh$a y or bans, is essentially a foothill species and so the best of it comes from the 
forests west of the Sarda river, the submontane tract round Kotdwara havmg^the 
finest bamboo in the United Provinces 18 . KdJa ig , Saccharun cylindricum, is 
a kind of tall grass which blossoms in the autumn season and bears white flowers 
Bhadramustd^ or mustd^^ Cyperus rotandus, is the common grass plant called nag- 
armotha a great favourite of the wild boars 22 . Kofo 28 or darbha 2 *, Poa Cynosuroides, 

P- 20 - 
2 ?*., II. 8. 

8 R///. r VI. 29. 
4 ibid., III. 14. 
G Af. P., ii. 

6 Ibid., 36. 

7 Rdghtt., IV, 67; Rtu., V. 9, vi. 4, 12. 
8 K>//.,V. 9, VI. 4, 12. 

9 Right/., II. y, Rtu., L 25, II. 8, IV. 7. 

. 1,22; p%,IV. 57. 
.,II. 5i;K, p. 95- 
.,V. 1 5, XV. 19. 
Ibid., V. 9. 

14 Ibid., II. 12, IV. 13; Ku., I. 8; M. P. 56. 
ir > Rjte.,I. 25. 

16 Masumdar; Upavana Vinoda, p. 12. 

17 Ragf>tt., II. 12, IV. 13; K>, I. 8; M. P. 56. 

18 Robertson, Our Forests, p. 41. 

19 Ku., VII. II; R/*., III. 1,2,26. 

20 Rfu. y I. 17. 

21 R^/w, IX. 59. XV. 19. * a lbid., IX. 59; cf. R/*/., I. 17- 

8 R^gfcr., I. 49, 95, V. 4,7, XIII. 43. XIV. 70, &*., I. 60. * ^., II. 12. p. 34. 


is held sacred and is abundantly used in religious ceremonies. Its leaves are very 
long, tapering to a sharp needle-pomt, of which the extreme acutencss was prover- 
bial. Another kind of grass was us/ra 1 , Andropogon lamger (Andropogon cit- 
rarum: Andropogon muricatum), from the fragrant root of which a cooling 
ointment was made 2 . Durtw*, the bent panic grass, has fine blades and was used 
for several sacred purposes, Saileya 4 is a particular kind of fragrant grassy 
moss growing on rocks. 

Tne poet has made several references to crops and cereals which will be noted 
in their due context. Here only a mention of their names may be made They 
are barley 5 (yava\ rice 6 (dhdnya)^ and sugarcane 7 , (iksu). Of the rice, he knows 
three varieties, sali 8 , kalama 9 and nivara 10 . The cultivation of saffron 11 in 
the Oxus basin has also been referred to. 

Let us now pass on to the references to aquatic plants. Of flowers and plants 
growing in inland waters the lotus, #tf//#/ 12 , was most important and Kahdasa docs 
not seem tired of giving its description. Its several varieties were known. For the 
common lotus the poet employs several names, viz. avawndd^^pankaja^ wrasijti^, 
utpala, Ymphaeo stellata, kamalc^*, ambuja 1 *, and ambhoruha**. There were pad- 
mas*b (also padtnim) opening at the touch of the sun's rays and htmudds^^ water 
lilies. Of the latter class we know two varieties, namely the ordinary white kind 
and kwalaycP^ the blue one. Of the former there were several species, namely 
the white, red, blue and yellow; sitapankaja^ and pundanka^ refer to the white 
variety, tamarasd^^ kMarcF* &K& raktakamald^m the red, indivara 29 and 

1 Ibid., p. 84. 

2 ibid., 

hu VI. 25. 
4 R///., VI, 25. 
*R*^., VII. 27, X. 43, XIIL 49; Ka., VII. 17 

* Ragbx., IV. 20,37; R'#- HI. 1,10,16, IV, 1,7,18, V i. 18 

7 Ragbtt., IV. 20; R///., V. i, 16. 

8 Raglw., IV. 20; Rttt. III. i, 10,16, IV. i, 17, 18, V. 1,16 

R^gfa., IV. 37. 

10 Ibid., i. 5o;JJ*.,I. B. 

11 Ragbu., IV. 67. 

12 Ibid., VI. 44; Rto. 9 II. 14; Salk., pp. 84, 89. 

18 Raghu., I. 43. 

"Ibid., III. 8. Rte., III. 10, 23. 
16 Ragfw., V. 69. 

16 R///., II 2, 14. III. 24, V. 10; Ragftu., III. 36, XII 86; M. P., 26; Sak. 9 I. 18. 

17 R/to., I. 28, III. 5,8,26, V. 13, VI. 32. 
M Ibid., IV. 4, VI. 14- 

19 Ibid., III. 17. 

80 Ibid., III. 1,1 j, IV. i, VI. 2; !//., IV. 40. 

81 AC?/, II. 12. 

22 R^., IV. 19, VI. 36; Rtu., in. 2,15,21,23,26. 
28 R/*., II. 22. 

24 Ragfw., XIII. 54. 

25 Ibid., VI. 17, X. 9; Ku., VIII. 26,32. 

26 R^# , IV. 17, X. 9; Ate/., IV. 7. 27 R/*., III. 15. K/*., IV. 12. 

Aw., VI. 65; R///., H. 12. ^ R/., III. 17, 19, 26, IV. 9. 


to the blue and kanakakamald^, tdtakumbhakamala* 1 and hemambhojd* to the yellow 
one of a golden hue. This last kind has been mentioned as growing exclusively 
m the Manasa lake 4 of the Kailasa range Lotuses and lilies covering at places 
the entire surface of the water make the expression kamalavand* literally true, 
and one may see many an Indian lake growing lotuses in uninterrupted stretches 
of several miles together and giving the impression of a forest through which it 
becomes difficult for a cutter or canoe to make way. A different variety of lotus, 
the sthahikamahnfi, Hibiscus mutabilis, has been described as growing on land". 
The stalk of the lotus, it is said, served 7 as food (pdtheyd) for the flamingoes flying 
to the Manasasarovara. Besides, there were some other aquatic plants and reeds 
growing m the swamps of lakes and lowlands and in shallow river-beds. Such 
was saivala*, vallisnena, a vigorous growth of moss, which spieads itself over 
ponds, and interweaves with the lotus. NiculcP, perhaps the same as the 
vetasd^ and vanira^-^ Calamus vimmalis, (Calamus tenuis) is the cane reed which 
grew near about Ramagiri 12 , on the banks of the Tamasa 13 , Gambhira 14 and 
Malim 16 , and perhaps also in the Suhma country, to which an indirect reference 
is given 16 . 

Under this section may be discussed the data regarding the animal life 
including the creatures living on land and water and birds and other winged 


We may study animals under two heads, viz., the wild and domestic. 

Wild Animals. 

Just as the primeval forests have mostly disappeared from the plains of India 
so also have vanished several of the wild animals to a great extent. During 
the time of Kahdasa forests abounded m which animals flourished. Of these the 
following have been noted: the lion (mrgendra^ ', mrgesvara^^ riksa 1 *, stmha^)^ the 

., V. 13. 

2 KM., VIII. 85. ^ 

8 Af. P., 62, JTT**3T Ragbn , XIII 60. 
4 Ibid. 
r> R/*.,l. 26. 
6 Af 17. 27. 
1 M. P. ii. 

8 Raghu., V. 46; $ak. 9 I. 17. 

9 Af. P., 14; Vik., IV. 13. 

10 Sdk., p. 60; III, 23. 

11 M. P., 41. 

12 Ibid., 14. 

18 Ra&*. 9 IX. 75- 
14 At P. 41. 

., p. 60, III. 23. 

w Ibid.,IL 3 o;R/.,I.27- 

20 R^gfar'.l II. 27, IX. 64; > I- 56. 


king of the animal kingdonvthe elephant (kan\ dantP, dilpcP, ibha*,gaja* kunjanf 1 ) 
and its young one (kalabha 1 }, the tiger (vyagbra*) and tigress (vyaghri*\ the boar 
(varaha\ the rhinoceros (khariga), the bison (mahisa l \ vanya\ and buffaloes 
(wabisa**\ the yak (camarp*) roaming among the Himalayas, a kind of ox (gmwya l *\ 
the deer (mrg^\ both buck and doe (^rgi ll \ including two kinds of them, namely, 
the musk-deer (nirganabhi*)\( Wilson observes that this animal is what is called 
the Tibet Musk-deer; "but it is found among the lofty Himalaya mountains, 
which divide Tartary from Hindustan" cf. Ku. ,1*54; R. IV. 74), and the spot- 
ted one (ruri^ or krsnasara whose skin was considered sacred), the jackal, the 
female species of it (j/#J 20 ), the monkey (vauara, kctpt- 1 } and ape (pingala vanara-"^)^ 
the wild cat, the male species (vtddla* 3 ^ and a fabulous animal of gicat strength 
sarabhd^ said to be living in the Himalayas. 

Of the domesticated animals we read of elephants, caught as a state mono- 
poly 25 , and serving in the army 26 , and probably abounding in the forests of Kahn- 
ga 27 and Kamarupa 28 , horses (ra/ja c * g rfjw 30 , turaga* 1 ), cow (gof* (dhentf^)^ and calf 
), the beasts of burden like the bull (zrjvv 35 , kakudmaif^., Iwllrardtfl 1 ) the camel 

agu., III. 3. 
Ibid., I. 71; R/*., 1.27. 
< Ra&*., II. 37, 38, V. 43> IX. 65, Kn. 9 VIII. 33; H/*, II 15. 

4 R///., VI. 28. 

5 Ibid,, I, 14, 15, 19; R^gto., IX. 15. 


Ibid., IX. 63, XVI. 15. 
9 Ibid., XII. 37. 

10 Ibid., II. 1 6, IX. 59; Ku., VIII. 35; /., II. 6, p. 55; R/., I. 17. 

11 Ragbu., IX. 62. 

12 Ibid , IX 61, XVI. 13; Rta., I. 21. 

13 ,fefe., II. 6, 

14 R^//, IX. 66, &y., I. 13, 48, Af. P. 53. 
r ^^., I. 56, R/., I., 23, 27. 

16 R^^., IV. 74, IX. 53,55,64; SaJk., II. 6; R///., I. n, 25, II. 9, IV. 8. 

17 ^ftufr R^//., IX. 5 5, ^ift Ibid., XII. 37; R///., III. 14. 

38 R^te, IV. 74, XVII 24; Af. P. 52; K//., I. 54; R///., VI. 12. 
19 R^//., IIL 31, IX. 5 i, XIII. 34; K*. 9 III. 36; Vik., IV. 57. 
20 R^g^.,XI. 6i > XVI. 12. 

21 Ibid., XIL 59. 71, XVI. 79; R/*., I. 23. 

22 Ate/., p. 85. 

23 faJk., p. 226; Afi?/., p. 62. 

24 M. P. 54; ?/*., I- 23. 

25 R4f^//., XVI. 2. 

26 Ibid., IV, 40, 75, V. 72. 

27 Ibid., IV. 40. 

28 IbiJ., 83. 

29 Ibid., V. 73. 

80 Ibid., IIL 65; Kit., VI. 39. 

31 Raghu., I. 42. 54. 

32 Ibid., I. 88, II. 23, 49. 

38 Ibid., II. i, 4, 15, 26, 49, M^fHfl 2I > etc - 

34 Ibid., II. 22, 66. 85 Ibid, II. 35- 86 Ibid., IV. 22. ^f Ibid. Ate/., p. 80. 


(ustra 1 } and the mule (ydrnF). There were domesticated big dogs (Svdganfi) 
kept by the fowlers for purposes of sport 4 . A reference to an ape 6 is made in 
the Mdlavikagnimitra as kept in the royal garden of the King There were the 
common domestic cat (vidalF) and the mouse (mtisika 1 } 

Kalidasa makes no reference to the ox or the domestic buffalo, but an allusion 
to the former may have been implied in the word dhurjas (R^ghu^ XVII, 19) 
which may have included oxen as beast of draught. 

Serpents (pharn*, and bhogi*} are on record, as also a few other insects. The 
Megbaduta refers to white ?,nts (valmP) and the Mdlavikdgmmitra to ants (pipi- 
likdh n \ Indragopa 1 - or Indragopakah 1 *, mentioned in the ILaghwamsa and the 
yjusambara, is a red and fleshy insect of the size of a pea seed. It looks vclvetfy 
and its touch is very soft. It is gregarious and generally apears in groups in the 
beginning of the rainy season and the ground where it swarms in hundreds looks 
like red patches. A favourite of the Sanskrit poets, it is frequently described by 
them as a companion of ihe rainy season. 

Many aquatic creatures have found mention in the works of the poet. The 
Indian ocean abounded in huge crocodiles and alligators and serpentine creature? 
(b}mjangdh u \ u hales wjth huge slits for mouths throwing upwards streams of 
water through their perforated heads (//;^^ 15 ) hippopota muses (mdtanganakrdh} 
jumping up all of a sudden above the surface of water 16 , shoals of conchshells 
\iafikhttyutbani] with their heads transfixed at their jutting points 17 and oysters 
opening their shells (sukti] on the strand 18 . There were crocodiles (nakrdK) and 
sharks (&odha) in lakes 20 and rivers 21 . Then there were fishes (mina*) of several 
kinds big (/;/<//f)w 23 ) and small, like the rohita^ 2nd saphari 1 * respectively. The 

1 Rf/u/;//., V. }2 

2 Ibid. 

Ibid., IX. 5 v 

4 Ibid., 

6 Mdl. y p, 85. 

6 Ibid,, p. 84. 

7 Sdk. , pp. 226. 

8 K//V., I. 13,20. 

9 Raghu., II. 32, IV. 38, XI , 27; R/., I. 16, 18. 

10 Af. P. 15. 

11 Md/., p. 48. - 
32 Ragbu., XI. 42; Vtk.> p. 95. 

18 R^., II. 5. 

" Ragbu., X1I1. 12, 

1& lbld., JO. 

10 Ibid., n. 
Ibid., 13. 
* Ibid., 17. 
10 Sd&. 9 p. 184. 

20 Ragbu.> VII. 30. 

21 Ibid., XII. 55. 

22 Ibid., I. 73, XVI, 61; JFl///., I, 19. 

23 Ragbu., VII. 40. 

24 Sdk.> pp. 186-206. 

26 *., IV. 39; MP. 40; /*., III. 3. 


rofiita (tohi-Ttdi) fish were a kind of carp found in lakes and ponds in the neigh- 
bourhood of the Ganges. They grow to the length of three feet, are very voia- 
aous, and their flesh, though it often has a muddy taste; is edible. Thcii back 
is olive coloured, their belly of golden hue, their fins and eyes red. These fish, 
of the weight of twenty-five and thirty pounds, are often caught m tanks in lower 
Bengal 1 . Sapbari is a kind of small glittering fish which is commonly found in 
all river streams of India. Besides fish, everywhere in shallow water could be 
seen the jumping frogs (bheka 2 , mdndtikcP). 


Birds play an important part m the description of Kahdasa. They may be 
described below. Peacock has been very frequently mentioned with its different 
names vimayurcfi^ barhfi, stkhcmdr*, kalapl 1 and Jiklfi*. The Indian peacock is very 
restless, especially at the approach of rams. Its circubt movements have been 
often likened to dancing It was mostly wild (raiwbarbi*} but was occasionally 
tamed 10 , (bhavanahkhfi^) for pleasure's sake (kriddmnynra^). Cakor^ is the Greek 
partridge of the genus Tetraopcrdix of which there were sever?! varieties. It is a 
smart bird with a well-set hcsd and prominent reddish eyes and legs. In tho 
tropics it is generally found in the new green swards in pairs aftci the rains, ft is 
said to feed on moon beams and its eyes are supposed to grow turbid at the sight 
of poison. Cdtaka^^ Cuculus melanoleucus, is a kind of cuckoo supposed to 
drink only the water of the clouds 16 . "It is not a fabulous bird," Mr. S. P. 
Pandit 16 assures us, "but a small bird, smaller than the smallest dove, has a long 
tail, and combines m itself the black, yellow and white. Long crest on its head, 
of the shape of a bow with an arrow stretched on it, which is supposed to 
prevent it from bending its head by coming opposite the beak and thereby to 
prevent it from drinking water lying on the ground or any water to drink 
which the beak is to be lowered, and which crest village mythology says it 
obtained as a punishment for having in a former life cruelly prevented her 
daughter-in-law from drinking water because of a trivial mistake " If the 
identification of Mr. Pandit is correct then the bird is no other than one 

1 Momer Williams- Sakuntala^ Notes. 

*K/*., I. 18, II. 13- 

8 Ibid., I. 20. 

* R^//.,III. 56. IX 67. X11I 27, XIV. 69, XVI. 14; K/*.,I. 13., III. 12. 

5 Ragba., II. 16, XVI. 14, &/ , H- 6, 

6 Raghu., I. 39. 

7 Ibid., VI. 51; Rfit., I. 16. 

Af. P. 32; /., II. 14,16, III. 13. 

8 &&*., XVI. 14. 

10 Ibid. 

11 M. P., 32. 
12 JWM. XIV. 14. 

18 Ibid., VI. 59- VII. 25 

14 R///., II. 3; R^gto., V. 17, M. P. 9, U. 5 1. 

16 R/#., II. 3. 

16 VikramorvaJf, II. Notes. 


known in the vernacular of eastern U. P. ar Nain (lit, a she-barber). 
is the vulture while garuda~> a fabulous bird supposed to be the king of birds 
and an inveterate enemy of snakes, is said to be the vehicle of Visnu. SyencP 
is the Indian falcon. Sdrikd*, Garcula rehgiosa, is one of the most common hill 
birds of India It is the falkmg maina. Suka* is the common parrot. Harita* 
has been explained by some 7 as a kind of pigeon, but, in fact, it is a kind of parrot 
feeding on the leaves of the black pepper 8 . Pdtdvatcts* and kapota^ are pigeons, 
perhaps two kinds of them, more probably the former signifying the turtle-dove 
while the latter denoting pigeons in general. Kokila* 1 is the Indian cuckoo also 
known as tyamiP* because of its black colour. "Its male species is called putftsko- 
kilti 1 *. This bird has for its epithets anyapusta 1 * zridparabfirfa 1 *, nourished by 
another, because the female is imagined to leave her eggs in the nest of the crow 
to be hatched. The bird is as great a favourite with Indian poets as the nightin- 
gale is with the European. Its note is a constant subject of allusion ^nd is des- 
cribed as very sweet. Of these birds, the suka 16 , sanka 17 and kapota 18 were 
domesticated and kept in cages. 

Besides, there were aquatic birds, nirapatatrinah^^\i\z\i may now be noticed. 
Hamsd^ or rdjahamsa^ is the swan, a sort of white goose with red legs and bill. 
It has been attributed several supernatural qualities and is supposed to be a native 
of the Manasa lake 22 . Jts female kind is known as rdjahamsl 1 ^. Ealdka^ or 
sdrasa 25 is a crane while karandava^^ a duck, is perhaps a different species of 
the same. Cakravdkcr 1 , otherwise known as rathdngd^ is called dvandvacara pata- 

1 Rgbtt., XL 26, XII. 50; $ak., p. 1 86. 

2 R^/j//., XI. 27, 59. 

8 Ibid., XL 60. 

* M. U., 22. 

6 J//&, p. 74, ibid., II. 22; $ak. 9 1. 13. 

6 Ra&bti., IV. 46. 

7 Apte: Sanskrit-English Dictionary (Students' Edition), p. 639, C. i. 
Ragiw., IV. 46. 

9 Af. P. 38, Vtk., III. 2. 

10 Ma/., p. 84. 

11 Vtk., IV. 56; R/*., VI. 14, 20, 21, 22, 27. 

12 M. U., 41. 

"jfor.,111. 32, IV. 14; .fa*., VI. 4- 
"R/. VI. 25. 

15 Ibid., VI. 28; vvrsgi Raghu., VIII, 59, IX. 34,43,47- 

16 Ragfm., V, 74; K//C II. 22. 

17 M. 17., 22. 
15 MaL, p. 34. 

19 Raglw., IX. 27. 

*> Ibid., IV. 19, Ku. 9 VIII. 82; M. P. 23; R/#., I. 5, III. i, 2,8,10,13,16,17,24,25. IV. 4- 

81 Ragbu., V. 75; M. P. II. R/#., III. 21. 

22 M. P., II. 

MRagbu., VI. 26. VIII. 59. 

24 M. P., 9; Rta., III. 12. 

25 Ragb*. 9 XIII. 30,33; Af. P. 31; R^., I. 19, III. 8, 16. 

26 R///., III., 8; Vtk., II. 22. 

Ku. t VII. 15. VIII. 32; $8k., p. no. R*gbu., III. 24, XIII. 31. 



tri because it lives in pairs 1 . Its female is cakravdkfl. They arc known aschakwa 
and chakwi in Hindi. They belong to the genus Anas casarca and are 
the ruddy geese, the Brahmani ducks. KurarP, the female osprey, is a kind of 
solitary bird living in the neighbourhood of watery places, utters shrill and fre- 
quent cries and is so timid that it flies away at the slightest approach of danger. 
Its cries have been likened with human wailing 4 . KrauficcP and kanka* are 
kinds of the heion, large screaming water-fowls with long legs and neck. The 
latter supplied a kind of arrow called kanka pair a, with its feathers for its tail 7 . 
In addition to the above birds we have also references to locusts, salabha 8 , 
(the various winged creatures that are attracted by 2nd fall into the flame of a 
lamp) and to bees, all 9 the smaller variety dwrepha 1 *, bfrnga 11 , bhramara, 
d* and madhukard* ihc larger species. 

*., VIII. 56. 

2 M. U., 20. 

3 Ragbu., XIV, 68; Vik , p. 9 
*4g/w., XIV. 68. 

* Rtx., IV. 8. 
6 R^//., II. 31. 

7 Ibid. 

8 Sak,, I. 28. 

9 Ji///, VI. 28, 35. 

MaI. III. 5; ll/#., HI. 6, VL i, 14, 15. 

ll R/., II. 14,15, VI. 21. 

12 K///., VI. 27. 

^ Ibid., VI. 27 34; SaL, I. 20. 



We shall now proceed to identify the territorial divisions Janapadas 1 
which Kalidasa mentions. We may, at the first instance, discuss those place- 
names which occur in the 4th canto of the Ragbwawsa in course of the conquest 
of Raghu. It must at the very outset be borne in mind that since Raghu was 
attempting a conquest of unconquered realms acquiring the yet unacquired 
as enjoined on a king elsewhere 2 naturally these countries, which he passed 
through, lay beyond his possessions. They were, in a way, territories lying on 
the frontiers of Raghu 's dominions and our poet, while describing the progress 
of the conqueror's prmy through foreign lands, actually indirectly attempts to 
give an ideal boundary of India. In course of this conquest Kalidasa docs not 
touch the inland countries, but he refers to the natural frontiers of India. Thus 
directly from the most powerful middle kingdom of Ayodhya he makes the king 
take a far easterly route and reaches him to the very eastern confines of India 
bordering on the Bay of Bengal. 3 Among the peoples inhabiting the eastern 
Janapadas* he recounts the Suhmas, 5 the Varigas equipped with a fighting fleet 
of boats, the Utkalas 7 who accepted Raghu 's supremacy without an arrow being 
shot at them and who even volunteered to show him the way to Kahnga 
noted for its army of elephants. 8 


Suhff/a was situated to the west of Vaiiga. 9 It has been identified by Nila- 
kantha, the celebrated commentator of the Mababharata, with Radha and was, 
therefore, that part of Bengal which lay to the west of the Ganges 10 including 
Tamluk, Madnopur 11 and also perhaps the districts of Hugh and Burdwan. 
It is placed between Vanga and Kahnga in the Brhatwmhttd^ which is almost 

* ILgfar., IV. 34, V. 9, 41, IX. 4, XV. 42; MP., 48. 
2 nfcldlfiHmm R*^., VIII. 17. 
3 reHK'llMV IV., 32. 

Ibid., 34. 

6 Ibid., 35. 

6 5RFf. . . .^TT^Fft^n^Ibid., 36. 

7 Ibid., 38. 

8 Ibid., 40. 

9 Suhma is described in verse 35 before verse 36, in which the Vangas are referred to as 
being on the Ganges. 

10 Anandabhafta's Baltalacaritam, pt., II. ch. i. 

11 Wilson: Introduction to Mackenzie Collection, chs. 138, 139. 
18 Ch. 16. 


exactly the spot where Kahdasa places it, 1 with the only difference that a small 
tract inhabited by the Utkalas which, though politically distinct 2 from Kalinga 
nevertheless geographically only the northern part of it, intervened. 3 The 
country of the Suhmas is placed to the west of the Vangas living to the east 
of the Ganges and in the delta formed by the Ganges 4 and the Brahmaputra. 
Ptolemy seems to refer to parts of Suhma and Vanga in his 'Gangandai' 5 to 
which the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea also appears to allude. 6 It is the first 7 
jahapada encountered by Raghu in his march towards the east. Next to it comes 
the land of the Vangas. The poet points out indirectly that the Suhmas lived 
in a country abounding in cane -plants and they got everyday an opportunity 
to see how big trees resisting the force of the current were borne down by the 
river while the supple cane was spared, and to learn thereby the safest course 
of action (jwtaslw vrttim) m case of an invasion by a powerful enemy. 


The country of the Vangas* lay to the west of Tipperah. It must not be 
confounded with Gauda or north Bengal for, in the Mdahavacampfi the two coun- 
tries are clearly distinguished and Vanga is described as that 'country through 
which the Padma and the Brahmaputra flow.' The fact that the main channel 
of the Brahmaputra flowed through Mymensing will make it further clear. 
Pargiter identifies Vanga with the modern districts of Murshidabad, Nadia, 
Jessore, Parts of Rajashahi, Pal na and Fandpur 10 . This would have been 
almost correct but for the inclusion of Murshidabad in the list which would be 
perhaps a little far too west. Kalidasa places the Vangas in the delta formed 
by the Ganges and the Brahmaputra (Gangd$rotdntaresity x and makes them almost a 
sea-faring people with their marine forces. 12 Strabo 13 and the Periplus 1 ^ both 
seem to know only one mouth of the Ganges. 


Next came the Utkalas. 15 Utkala is a corruption of Utkalmga which means 
the northern (Lfr) part of Kalinga. The country of Utkala or Odra (Orissa) lay 
to the south of Tamralipta, and the context in which it is referred to would 

1 Cf. vs. 35-38 ofRagbu., IV. 

zRagbu., IV. 38. 

8 Cf. vs., 36-38 ibid. 

4 Ibid., 36. 

6 S. N. Majumdar: Ancient India by McCtwdh. p. 173. 

6 Translated by Wilfred H. Schoff, p. 47> P- 63. 

7 &%[*., IV. 35- 

8 Ibid., 

9 Ibid., 36. 

10 Ancient Countries in Eastern India: /. A. S. JB., 1897, p. 85. 

11 JLsrg/&//., IV. 36. 

U XV.L 13. 
14 Schoff *s Translation,p. 47 
V. 38. 


seem to limit its northern frontier by the river Kapiga identified with the Kasai 
flowing through Midnapur in Bengal. 1 At the time of the Mahdbhdrata. 
Utkala formed part of Kaliriga, the river Vaitarani being its northern boundary 2 
but the 'Brahma Pur ana tr ats the in as two separate kingdoms 3 and Kalidasa 
appears to be distinctly in agreement with the latter tradition 4 . Thus Utkala 
extended in the north to the Kasai in Midnapur, Bengal, and bordered on 
Kaliriga in the south. The country of Kaliriga 5 stretched along the coast of the 
Bay of Bengal from Utkala in the north to the mouth of the Godavari in the 


General Cunningham places it between the Gaolia branch of the Indravati 
river on the north-west and the Godavari in the south-west, 7 while Rapson 
between the Mahanadi in the north and the Godavari in the south. 8 Godavari 
may thus be taken as the commonly accepted southern boundary of Kaliriga. 
As to the north it was conterminous with Utkala for which we have the autho- 
rity of Kalidasa himself. 9 But we are not sure as to the exact boundary be- 
tween Utkala and Kaliriga. Perhaps Cunningham's idea of the Gaolia as boundary 
may be taken as correct. The Mahendra, 10 of which the Kaliriga King is said to 
be the lord, 11 is a mountain lying in Kaliriga and slightly butting in Utkala 
which makes our task of the exact identification of this boundary line more diffi- 
cult. Roughly the Gaolia branch of the Indravati may be taken to be the 
northern limit of Kaliriga. 

Then the conqueror proceeds southwards along the coast covered with the 
betel-nut trees. 32 He crosses the Cauvery, u swoops over the spice producing 
Malaya region 14 and encounters the Pandyas 15 of the far south of considerable 
strength 1 '*, foils their resistance and receives from them a tribute their en- 
tire horde of pearls fished from the Tamraparm and the Indian Ocean. 17 The 
Periplus^ Pliny, 19 Ptolemy 20 and almost all the classical writers are replete with 
references to the pearl-fisheries of the Indian Ocean. Then Raghu of indomit- 

r: Ancient Countries in Eastern India, ]. A. S. JB., Vol. LXVI. pt. I, 1377, p. 85* 
2 Vana Parva, ch. 114. 
3 Ch., 47, Verse 7. 
4 R^//., IV. 38. 
B Ibid. 5 38, 40. 
6 Ibid.,VJ. 56,57- 

7 Ancient Geography, p. 516. 

8 Ancient Indw, p. 1 64. 
R^.,IV. 38. 

10 Ibid., IV. 39, VI. 54. 

11 Ibid., IV. 40, 54. 
Ibid., 44. 

18 Ibid, 45. 

14 Ibid., 46. 

36 Ibid., 49 

18 ftftr T^T^ faft 5fcPTC*T T^Rfr Ibid - 17 Ibid -> 5- 18 Schorl's Translation, p. 46, 59. 

19 IX. 54-58. 20 Majumdar : Ptolemy by McCHndle, pp, 58-60. 


able valour crossed the Western Ghats (Sahya) 1 through the Palghat gap be- 
tween the Malaya (Cardamom Hills) and the Dardura 2 (Nilgiri Hills) mountains, 
the wonted way of the armies crossing from the eastern to the western coast. 3 


There is another reference to these Pandyas in the Rdghtwawsa. VI 59-65. 
Their capital is said to be Uragapura. 4 Vaidya thinks that it was the Pandya 
capital Uragapura of the time of Karikala Cola and earlier, for it was in the first 
century A.D. that Karikala Cola overthrew the supremacy of the Pandyas and 
made Kaveripattanam his capital neglecting Uraiyur. Therefore Vaidya thinks 
that this Uragapura really refers to Uraiyur of the Pandyas prior to their over- 
throw by Karikala Cola, and consequently he places Kalidasa in the ist century 
B.C. 5 . But this argument is hardly tenable, because of the following points. 
The time of Karikala Cola itself is not yet settled. Then there is another 
point. We know that the Pandya power was re-established at Madura in the 
third century A.D. by Selyan or Nedun Selm Pandyo 6 when the best Tamil 
poets flourished. Of the two references 7 to the Pandyas, the first is made when 
they were supposed yet unassailable 8 but the second one alludes to them in a 
general way. 9 In the first case they were defeated and reinstated by Raghu 
when they paid tribute. But in the second reference they reappear during the 
time of one of his successors although with no particular importance attaching 
to them. Is it possible that the poet may be hinting at the Pandyas' 
twice appearance on the scene of the south, once prior to their overthrow 
by Karikala, re-placed in the story by Raghu, and next posterior 
to their re-estabhshmct m the third century? We must bear in mind the 
fact that they flourished again in the south from the third century 
down to the fifth when they were again overthrown by the Pallavas. And Kali- 
dasa, therefore, must have their reappearance in mind when he speaks of them 
in the second instance with their capital at Uragapura. This Uragapura may 
have been Madura itself for the Tamil name of Madura is Alavay, 10 snake, uraga. 
Mallinatha's identification of this capital of the Pandyas with Nagapur? on the river 
Kanyakubja u (Coleioon), which is evidently Nagapatam standing on that river, 
is nothing but the outcome of a lure for the hunt of a synonym of Uragapura. 
The Pandya country was ii\thc extreme south of India lying to the south-west of 

2 Ibid., 5 i. 

3 Vidyalankata Bbaratb/jtlmj 9 p. 101. 

4 ^T7Tl^^q"q^Fn"r4 Ibid , VI. 59. 

6 C. V. Vaidya: The Pandyas and the Date of Kalidasa. The Annah of Mandarkar 
Institute, II. pp. 63-68. 

6 Krishnaswamy Ayangar The Beginning of South Indian History, ch. VI. 

7 'Kaghu., IV. 49-50 and VI. 59-65. 

8 Ibid., IV. 49- 

9 Ibid., VI. 54-65. 

10 K. G. Sankara: The Annah ofBhandarkar Institute, II. pp. 189-191. 

11 ^T^^iT^^mTFT Comment on J^gfe., VI. 5 9. 


ColadeSa. The mountain Malaya 1 and the river Tamraparm 2 fix its position 
indubitably. Its northern boundary seems to have reached the Cauvery 3 whence 
it extended in the south right up to the Indian Ocean. 4 

Aparanta Kerala 

The armies of Raghu then venture forth on the west coast with a design 
to conquer the entire western sea-board of India (Aparanta). 5 Bhattasvami 
in his commentary on Kautilya's Arthasastra p * identifies Aparanta with Konkana, 
while the "Brahma Purana 1 includes Surparaka also. But with neither of these 
identifications would the description of Kahdasa agree. According to his des- 
cription when Raghu has conquered the eastern coast he desires naturally to annex 
the entire western strip of the sea coast, and Aparanta, therefore, has been re- 
ferred to in a general sense indicating the whole of the western border. N. L. 
Dey's supposition that Kahdasa places Aparanta to the south of Murala 8 , the 
rrver Mula-Mutha, 9 a tributary of the Bhima, is wrong. Because Murala is a 
river of Kerala as its name occurs in the description of the Keralas, 10 as also 
because if we take Aparanra to be a country lying to the south of the Murala, 
we shall have inadvertantly to place it even to the south of Kerala, i.e., Malabar, 
a reference to which it precedes ! But if we take Aparanta to refer to the entire 
strip of land lying between Sahya (the Western Ghats) and the sea (Sahyalagna 
ivdrnavatif 1 our difficulty will be solved as Kerala then would form a country in 
the stretch of Aparanta. The description of Aparanta starts with verse 5 3 and 
ends with verse 58, while that of Kerala is given in verses 54-55. This Kerala, 
where the fear of approach of Raghu 's forces made the women cast off 
their ornaments 12 , was Malabar. The entire western coast, our Aparanta 
of thi, 'Rag/Mratffja) included within its geographical limits the three divisions of 
Konkana from Daman to Goa, in the noxth, the coast of Karnataka in the middle 
and Kerala m the south. 13 Kerala was thus Malabar. 

The conquest of Aparanta is completed at Trikuta, the three peaks of the 
mountain serving as three pillars of victory. 14 Trikuta seems to have been a place 
from where the sea was situated not at too far a distance. Kahdasa implies that 
it was Tikruta from where the land and the sea routes for the country of the 

1 Ibid, IV 46. 

2 Ibid., 50. 

3 Ibid. ,45. 

wr^rn; *Tgfrr Jkid > 5 

Ibid , 53. 
6 Kosadhyaksa, Book II. 

8 Geo. Die., p. 9 (Aparanta). 

Ibid., p. 134. 
10 Raghn , IV. 54-55. 
"Ibid., 53. 

12 Ibid., IV. 54. 

13 Vidyalankara: BhdratMum. p. 84. 
14 R^.,IV, 59. 

CHAPTER in 5 5 

Persians bifurcated. 1 It was probably the name of a hill to the west of Nasik. 
An inscription found at Anjanen near Nasik (Ep. Ind., Vol. XXV, pp. 225 II.) 
mentions Eastern Tnkuta Visaya. 

Next vanquished were the Paras/kas 2 , Tnkuta, the last northern point in the 
extreme west of India, having already been captured. And here Kalidasa 
refers to two routes leading to the country of the Parasikas, namely, the land 
route and a possible sea route suggested by his expression prata?the sthalavartmand? 
in the vicinity of Tnkiit?, there ended the land route for the common wayfarer 
?nd the usual sea route started for Persia. The expression is very significant and 
suggests that the torn! of the Parasikas was no other than Pars, ancient Persia. 
It seems that from here usuaUy the traveller to Persia took one of the many sea 
ports, lOlyana being the nearest. It must be remembered that Ka/ytna* modern 
Kalvaw (19 14' N., 73, 10' E.) on the eastern shore of the harbour of Bombay, 
Surpa 0k<i, 5 modern Sopara(i9, 15' N., 72', 41' E.) and Bhrgukaccha, 6 Ba'ygaza 
of Ptolemy, modern Bioacli (21, 42' N., 72, 59' E.), were all busy ports from 
where Persia was reached. So the easy access by sea and the troublous journey 
through the Thar made Raghu, ?s though, reflect o while and lie preferred the 
land route to the waterway. Mallmathfl suggests that the preference was due to 
religious considerations 7 which hardly deserves credence in view of the fact 
that it was about Kahdasa's time that the intrepid Indian mariners kept sea com- 
munication with the western world and soon, after about a century and a half, 
conquered and colonized many of the islands spotted over the Indian Ocean. 
We read of several references to the marine activities ot the Indian people in the 
works of the poet himself. 8 Is it then because Raghu had no fleet to carry his 
men, horses and elephants? Surely Aparanta, with its capital at Surparaka, 9 
which he had already captured, or Kalyana itself could have furnished him with 
one. Then there is only one point which appears to suggest the reason of 
Raghu' s preference for the land route: the display of valour by courting a perilous 
journey. If the Pandyas, could not stay his march, surely the desert could by no 
means stop him. It seems, however, to make him pause and reflect a while and 
then 'to resolve' on the perilous alternative of the land route. The expression 
pratasfbe 1 ** of the poet smacks of two suggestive implications, namely, firstly, 
that it was a long way to the Parasikas and he had to make almost a new start, and, 

., 60. 

2 Ibid, IV. 60. 

8 Ibid. 

4 Calhena, The Per/plus of the Aerytherean Sea, SchofFs trans. 52. 

6 Suppara, Ibid., cf Smith: Aw&a,, 129; Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Roja! Astatic 
Society, Vol. XV. p. 272, Bhagawan Lai Indtaji: Antiquarian ULetnams at Sopara and Padana; 
Burgess: Antiquities of Kathiawad and Kachh, p. 131. 

6 Majumdar: McCrindle's Ptolemy, pp. $8, 40, 49, 77, 152, 153, also SchofFs Translation 
of the Periplus, pp. 27, 30, 32, 34-38 on each page. 

OnRagbf., IV. 60. 

8 C ^qo^iflqifr^ &*&<> P- 2I 9> tfsq-tfT (shipwreck ) f^q: ibid; marine descrip- 
tion in R^//., XIII. 2-1 8. 

9 Bhandarkar: History of the Deccan> Sec. Ill, p. 9. 
10 Raghu., IV. 69, 


secondly, which is a consequence of the first implication, that he had to effect 
a determined push. The situation did demand an iron resolve after making 
which the conqueror crossed the Thar and Sukkar. Then through the Bclan 
Pass he emerged on the foot ot the Kojak Amran Mountains and winding round 
to Girishka he rushed across to southern Persia. It was here that he was met by the 
bearded Persian horsemen whom he crushed and made to supplicate for his mercy 
by removing their turbans, a distinct manner of the inhabitants of Pars. There 
is another indication proving the same conclusion. Suppose Raghu had pre- 
ferred the sea-route. Where would he have landed ? Surely on the coast of Makran 
or Persia in which case again the Parasikas would have to be subdued in their 
home, Fais, for, it cannot be accepted, as some suggest, that in order to conquer 
the Parasikas residing on the north-west frontier of India, Raghu would land 
first on the Persian soil and then turn back to the north-east, i.e., India again. 

Here we must explain why it is that Kalidasa does not speak of the coun- 
tries between Aparanta and the habitat of Parasikas. IP this connection we have 
to bear in mind a few important points. As we have noted already above, 
Kalidasa is attempting in the conquest of Raghu to K build the natural and ideal 
frontiers of India. Ptolemy included within India the regions which lay imme- 
diately to the west of the Indus, comprehending considerable portions of the 
countries now known as Baluchistan and Afghanistan. He was fully justified 
in this determination since many places beyond the Indus, as the sequel will 
show, bore names of Sanskrit origin, and such parts were ruled from the earliest 
times down to the Muhammedan conquests by princes of Indian descent. The 
western boundary as given by Ptolemy would be roughly represented by a line 
drawn from the mouth of the Indus and passing through the parts adjacent 
to Kandahar, Ghazm, Kabul, Balkha and even places beyond. The Paropamsadai 
inhabited the regions lying south of the mountain range calleel Paropamisos, 
now known as the central Hindu kush. He gives as the eastern boundary 
of the Paropanisadai a line drawn south from the sources of the river Oxus 
through the Kaukasian Mountains (the eastern portion of the Hmdukush) to a 
point lying in long 119 30' and lat. 39. 1 If Ptolemy could think of the Hmdu- 
kush and the sources of the Oxus to form the northern and north-western 
boundaries erf India, Kalidasa, an uncompromising nationalist, had every right to 
fix them as natural frontiers. Then with Samudra Gupta communicating with 
Ceylon anei Balkha 2 and Candra Gupta actually controlling the land of Bactria, 
proved by the Mehroli Iron Pillar, Persia, the Hindukush and the valley of the 
Oxus would naturally be the extreme northern end north-western frontiers. 

Thus it is that Kalidasa stays the westward progress of his hero after Aparanta, 
the western sea coast. The eastern coast on the Bay of Bengal, the extreme south 
coast on the Cape Comorin touching the Malaya and Aparanta had been con- 
quered already and Afghanistan and the Hindukush had almost always formed the 
north-western boundary. The Hunas on the Oxus were slightly out of the range 

1 Majumdar: McCrmdlfs Ptolemy y pp. 33-34. 
Smith: Early History oj India, 4th Edition, p. 306. 



but their disturbances in the neighbourhood, the rumblings of which must have 
been heard within the national confines of India, tempted the poet to make his 
hero venture out a punitive expedition across the close border, and then turn to 
the south cast, conquer the Kamboj??, and cross the Himalayas, annexing the land 
of the Kiratas, the Utsavasariketas and the Kinnaras on his way down, accepting tri- 
butes from the king of Assam (Kamarupas), and thus complete and secure the 
Indian boundary. Thus it is that aftei the conquest of Aparanta Raghu has to 
look up to north and the north-west. And since Malwa, Saurastia and Thar 
lay within the natural confines of India, Kalidasa does not make Raghu conquer 
them. But the Parasikas had to be vanquished for they lay on the way and were 
fighting the Hunas lately settled in the basin of the Oxus. The two fighting 
nations must be made to taste the valour of one, who, himself an uncommon 
hero, was bent further on proving the fact that the land was bis. 

Persia, like to-day, was noted for its vine creepers, 1 drakwvalayabhilmisU) 
the word being still current in the language of the Baluchis for the grapes of the 
smaller variety. While speaking of Ariana Wilson says, "Aria will be restricted 
to the tract from about Meshd to the neighbourhood of Herat, a position well 
enough reconcilable with much that Strabo relates of Aria, its similarity to Mar- 
giana in character and productions, its mountains and well-watered valleys in 
which the vine flourished, its position as much to the north as to the south of 
the chain of Tavrvs of Alburn, and its being bounded by Hyrkania, Margiana, 
and Bactriana. on the north, and Drangiana on ihe south." 2 Persia was also 
noted for its precious skins by Kalidasa (cijinaratndf as also by the Periplus, which 
refers to coats of skin imported at Adulis from the vicinity of Persia. About 
these Schoff says, "originally these were of rough skins with hair left on; later 
they were imitated in Mesopotamia by a heavy woollen fabric, suggesting the 
modern frieze overcoat, which was largely exported." 4 

From Persia Raghu proceeded due north (Kaubcrim) along the Hindukush 
and emerged right mto the valley of saffron in the basin of the Oxus stum- 
bling on the Hunas. 


Proceeding northward Raghu reached the settlement of the Hunas on the 
banks of the Oxus and its tributaries. While identifying the river Vanksu with 
the Oxus the reasons for accepting the reading Vanksti for S/ndAuhzvc already been 
given. We have also referred there to the passage of Kslrasvami (a commenta- 
tor on the Amarakosa and writing about the second half of the i ith century A. D.) 
in which he has alluded to the settlement of the Hunas who were vanquished by 
Raghu. He has also, in way of illustration, quoted from the 'Kaghuvamsa (the 
context of Raghu's conquest) the line 'dudhuvurvdjmah skandhdnllagna 
sardn? We have to locate here properly the habitat of the Hunas. 

*.,1V. 65. 

* Anana Antiquities, p. 150. 

3 Ragtw., IV. 65. 

4 The Periplus of the Erythrean Sea, p. 70. 


The history of the Huna expansion in Central Asia is very interesting. 
During the reign of Pou-non-tanjou (A. D. 46) the Huna country and their 
empire suffered from severe famine. While they were yet in difficulties the 
Eastern Tartars and the Chinese drove them out of their land and pushed them to 
west and south. Thus quitting Tartary in" the north of China, they entered the 
provinces of Kashgar and Aksu 1 from where they spread towards the Caspian sea 
and the frontiers of Persia. These were called Te-le or Til-k. As they lived on 
the banks of the Oxus (ab- water) they were called Ab-fe/e. The name Abtelite-in 
the list of their names comes from this origin. It is the corruption of this name 
which has given rise to such names as EuphthahtesandNephthalites. 2 According 
to Tabari the word Haitalite comes from 'Haital/ which in the Bokhanan language 
means c a strong man/ 3 Sir Aural Stein remarks, "By the middle of the fifth century 
this race (the Hcphthalites) of probably Turkish origin had founded a power- 
ful empire in the Oxus basin, whence they carried their conquests down to Gan- 
dhara and beyond the Indus m the south, and as far ss Khotan and Karashahr 
in the East." 4 Sir P. M. Sykes, in like manner, says, "This powerful tribe crossed 
the Oxus flbout A. D. 425, and pccordmg to the Persian chroniclers the news 
of their invasion caused a widespread panic." 5 M. Chavannes is also of the same 
opinion m this regard. He writes, "Towards the middle of the 5th century, 
they established a great power in the basin of the Oxus and since then proved 
themselves the most redoubtable enemies of the Persian Empire." 6 Even as 
caily as A. D. 350 they had attacked Persia when they were repulsed by Shapur, 
the Great. 7 Again they invaded Persia in A. D. 425 ?nd were defeated by Beh- 
ramgour (Bchram V, A. D. 420-438) and forced to recognise the Oxus as the 
boundaty between Iran and their own country 8 . According to the Chinese autho- 
rities also the white Hunas first appeared in the countries on the Oxus in the begin- 
ning of the fifth century. 9 Thus about the time of Kalidasa the Hunas were 
settled m the doab formed by the modern Wakshab imd Akshab, the tributaries 
of the Oxus to which fact both KsirosvamI 10 and Vallabha 11 attest. The yaikyof 
the Oxus like that of the Sirdhu was noted for its crop of saffron flowers the 
filaments of which got stuck to the manes of the chargers 12 of Raghu's cavalry. 

X M. Deguignes: Histoire des Huns, Tome L, Partie I, p. 216 quoted by Dr. J. J, Modi 
in his harly History of the Hunas and their Inroads in India and Persia, p. 545. 
8 Ibid., 1, pt. II. pp. 325-26, quoted in Ibid., 565. 
*Taban par Jollerburg, II. p. 128, quoted in the har/y History of the 1 ///#/., p. 565. 

4 Ancient Kbotan, ch. III. p. 58. 

5 History of Persia, Vol. I. pp, 468-469. 

6 T ft ret Occident aux, p. 223. 

7 S. Knshnaswami Ayangar: The Hun Problems in Indian History, Indian Antiquary, 1919, 
p. 66. 

8 Modi: Harly History of the Huns. y pp. 566-67. 

9 Ibld * 

(Comment on 

saffron, in K. G. Oka's Edition of the Ksfrasvamj, p. iiof. It would then be the 
land of Bactria in the basin of the Oxus. 

11 By accepting the reading Vnksu for Sindhu, 
IV. 67, 


Kslrasvarm 1 alludes to it as has been pointed out above. Already ample evidence 
has been adduced to show that the poet in the course of the conquest of 
his hero is describing the frontiers of India and that with regard to his limits 
of the north-west he is perfectly borne out by foreign geographers. Prof. S. 
Krishnaswiimi Aiyangar has come to the same conclusion. He observes, "This 
itinerary of Raghu seems to mark the outer boundary in the west and north- 
west of India from the Achaememan times onwards almost up to the middle 
of the 3rd century A. D. 5 if not even up to the time of Yuan Chwang (Huen 
Tsiangj." 2 


Those next encountered after the Hunas were naturally an adjacent people. 
And since the Hunas were settled in the Oxus valley and because Kahdasa docs 
not speak of a return, surely the land of the Kambojas cannot lie in the north- 
western part of Afghanistan. We must seek their habitat elsewhere. Here 
we come across a very important piece of information which directly locates the 
Kambojas and additionally lends support to our mdcntification of the ParasTkas 
and the Hunas. After vanquishing the Kambojas after the Hunas, Raghu is said 
to have ascended the Himalayas. 3 It is significant thni; it is now at this stage 
of Raghu's conquest that the great mountain range is encountered. Thus the 
conqueror must have taken such a route as would have kept him off the Hima- 
layas. And if he went via Persia and Afghanistan then alone he could have 
a\oided them. Here we must remember that the Persian and the Huna empires 
were co-termmous and the Indian frontier touched both. Afghanistan was mostly 
within India and was partly included in the Persian empire. The Persian and 
the Huna empires were constantly waging war against each other. One such war 
at about the time of Kahdasa had turned the fortune in favour of the Persians 
when Behramgour (Behram V) defeated the Hunas in A. D. 425 and fixed the 
Oxus as the boundary between the possessions of the two. Thus naturally Raghu 
after defeating the Persians in their own land crossed to the country of the 
Hunas in the valley of the Oxus which lay slightly to the north-west of Kashmir 
and thus it was that the conqueror found himself in the north and north-west of 
the Himalayas without having crossed them. But in a homeward journey leadnig 
to the Indian countries of the north-east he had to cross the great mountain 
range somewhere. And since the Kambojas were defeated before the Himalayas 
were crossed back, they must be located somewhere beyond the latter but not in 
Afghanistan for the reason noted above. Here is another fact to be remarked. 
It is that if Raghu had ascended the Himalayas from their southern side, 
without doubt, in that case he would have descended in the land to the south or 
the south-west of Chinese Turkistan I 

The probability of the habitat of the Kambojas lying in the north-eastern 

1 Vide the Ksirasvam, p. no quoted above. 

2 The Huna Problem in Indian History, I. A., 1919, p. 69. 

3 SRft TTrfl^S <tHHI*OflMl*W &$>, IV. 7 1 - 

The Kambojas were vanquished in verses 69-70, Ibid, 


Afghanistan thus being rendered remote, we proceed now to seek it to the north 
and norrh-east of Kashmir. Kalhana places Kamboja to the north of Kashmir. 1 
This is true, but we have to locate them moe accurately and while doing so we 
shall need to retrace ourselves back and to repeat partly our earlier arguments. The 
Kambojas have been described in the ^a^mpamsa next after the Hunas. 2 Now 
the settlement of the Hunas has been located in the region which was called Haital 
by the Persians and Khuttal by the Arabs. According to the Arab geographers 
it was the land between the modern Vaksh and Aksu, the tributaries of the OxUs. 
Its boundary is conterminous with the northern frontier of the Ghalcha speaking 
country. 3 After the Kambojas there is the mention of the breezes of the head- 
waters of the Ganges. 4 An ancient belief places in the Himalayas a centrally 
located lake called the Anavatapta from which, it was supposed, there issued the 
SIta or Yarkand in the north, Oxus in the west, Indus in the south and the Ganges 
in the east. 5 The eastern confine of Kamboja was the river Yarkand and thus 
by proceeding from north to the east of that lake the army of Raghu could be 
expected, at least traditionally, to reach the Ganges. Here we must remember 
that Kahdasa docs not mean by Ganga any of the streams of that name of the north 
of Kashmir as all of them issue from below the internal Himalayan range while 
after the Kambojas the armv of Raghu descends from them. 6 Here clearly the 
reference to the Himalayas is to the Karakoram range. The path of Raghu 
therefore lay from the vallev of the SIta (Yarkand) on the eastern confines of 
Kamboja to the east of Karakoram pass, and then south-east. Now the position 
of the Anavatapta lake is not known, but it is said that the Smdhu issued from 
this lake on the south and the Sita or the Yarkand on the north. If Shiok is the 
main stream of the Sindhu then the glaciers of the Karakoram range may be identi- 
cal with the lake for there the Sindhu would be said to flow south and SIta north. 
But the rise of the Ganges and the Oxus from these glaciers would not look prob- 
able. There remains yet the fact that the courses of livers often change and it is 
not altogether impossible that the water of the Zorakula lake might have been 
flowing to the east and that of the Chakamaktin to the west just contrary to the 
present day. It is then possible that some stream might have been flowing from 
the glaciers of the Karakoram to the east in ancient times which was mistaken 
for the upper waters of the Ganges. 7 Such a mistake is not altogether impossible 
"as till the latter half of the last century the. modern geographers were not sure 
whether the Sam-po of Tibet was the upper stream of the Brahmaputra, the 
Iravati or Salwin. 8 It is interesting to note that a well-known route of commerce 
ran through Ladakh and eastern Kashmir into Tibet close by the region occupied 
by the war-like Daradas. 9 Raghu's route must have lain further cast as the poet 

1 Raja far angin1 y by Autel Stem, IV. 163-176, p. 104. 

2 R*7g/j#., IV. 69-70. 

8 Jayachandra Vidyalankara: Bharata., p. 302. 

4 W^ffatf^ft *TFT *KKltti fa^lV Rrfg^w., IV. 73. 

5 A\>hidharmakofa y III. 57; Waters: Yuan Chwang, I. pp. 32-35. 
*Ragbu., IV. 76-81. 

7 Jayachandra Vidyalankara: Bharata^ p. 304. 

8 Ibid., pp. 304-305. I. A., 1919, p. 69. 


does not mention the Daradas, and furthermore since his army is said to have been 
refreshed by the breeze of the Ganges. 1 Now, if the reference to the Ganges is 
to be taken literally true, the route must have lain across the passes of Garigotrl 
and Kedarnath to the doab between the Ganges and the Jumna, which fact is 
further supported by the reference to the view of the Kailasa mount. 2 Thus if 
this identification of Kamboja with part of Badaksh?n and the Ghalcha speaking 
territory of the Yarkand valley be correct, it may be made doubly so by addmg 
tliat the fine breed of the horses that Raghu received from the Kamboj?s 3 and 
the walnut trees (Aksota) 4 to which his elephants were tied arc even to this 
day some of the peculiar features of Badakhsan and the adjoining country. In 
like manner Kalidasa's mention of the gems and gold 5 presented to Raghu by 
the Kambojas can also point to the correctness of our identification as even now 
there are emerald and lapis mines extant near the Ghalcha speaking town of Mun- 
jan. It is interesting that Tavermer 6 speaks of a " mountain beyond Kashmir 
producing lapis," which Ball 7 locates near Firgamu in Badakshan, 36 10' N. 
71 W. Therefore Kamboja must be located in the Ghalcha speaking country 
and to the north-east of Kashmir. It is interesting that Longman's Senior Atlas 
of India 8 in its historical map of India of 250 B. C. shows 'Kambojas' to the east 
of Kashmir and north of the Himalayas with which Kalidasa's location fully 


Moving further cast and crossing the Himalayas Raghu marches eastwards 
to the valley of the Brahmaputra and meets the K/rdtas The Utsarasanketas 
and the Kinnarafi 1 living within the range of the Himalayas. The Kiratas must be 
identified with the people of Mar-yul (the country of butter as the mediaeval 
Tibetans called Ladakh), Zanskar and Rupshu. The Kiratas in the Indian 
literature have been used in a generic sense. 12 The Kiratas of Kahdasa were 
positively the Tibetans or Tibcto-Burmesc of Ladakh, Zanskar and Rupshu. 
Yet their identification with the Tibetans living round the Manasarovara lake 
cannot be precluded as although they are encountered after and not before the 

1 Ragtu. 9 IV. 73. 

2 Ibid., 80. 

s ^^.qq.fip S5T; ibid., 70. It is interesting that Waksha was the name of a part of 

Badakshanf it joined Khatlan and was famous for its horses, Wakh or Wakhan is the 
name of a district east of Badakshan. Cf. A. Hoututn Schmdler : I. A., XVIII, p. 114. 
4 Ibid., 69. 


6 Travels in India, II. p. XXV. 

7 Economic Geology of India, p. 529. For a fuller information, Vide Holdich, Gates oj^ 
pp. 426-507. 

8 Edited by George Philip, F. R. G. S., p. II, map, no. a. 

9 K^#., IV. 76. 

10 Ibid., 78. 

11 Ibid. 

12 Proceedings and Transactions of the Sixth All India Oriental Conference. (Raghu's Line 
of Conquest along India's Northern Border) p. in. 


Ganges which lay to the east of the Karakoram pass, a mention of the view of 
Kailasa has been made 1 and the Manasarovara lake lay in the same range. There 
is no doubt about the fact that even the people of Bhutan and its vicinity have 
been called Kiratas. The Per/plus 21 locates them to the west of the mouths of 
the Ganges and Ptolemy 3 near about Tipperah. But it seems that in the Indian 
literature they have been placed along the entire Himalayan range mostly in the 
Brahmaputra valley. But Kalidasa places them near about Ladakh. 


The next tribes were those of the Utsavasanketas and the Kinnaras. The 
Kmnaras were different from the Kiratas and they are mentioned in Indian 
literature along the Yaksas and Gandharvas. Since Raghu does not reach 
Kailasa the country of the K nnaras must have lam to the west of the Kajlasa 
and the Manasa In the Mahabharata also Arjuna during his conquest reaches 
the country of the Kimpurusas first, then Hatakadesa of the Guhyakas and 
thereafter the Manasa lake. 4 Jayachandra Vidyalankara is correct therefore when 
he identifies the land of the Kinnaras with modern Kanaur in the upper valley of 
the Sutlej where the head waters oi the Candrabhaga approach very near it, 6 


The Utsavasanketas on the authority of a commentary on the "RjaghuvamSa 
have been supposed by Pargiter to denote not a distinct tribe but a sociological 
term implying 'people who have no marriage and practise promiscuous 
intercourse, Uhatw meaning affection and Sanktta a gesture of invitation.' 6 
As a matter of fact, a loose marriage form still exists in Kanaur and its neigh- 
bourhood. So they would seem to refer to the Kinnaras themselves, but if 
they were a distinct tribe, as Kalidasa seems to suggest by placing them between 
the Kiratas and the Kinnaras, 7 theii descendants must be sought among the 
inhabitants of the land between Kanaui and the Kirata districts of Rupshu, who 
speak Manchati, Lahuli, Bunan, Rangloi and Kanashi, small dialects belonging 
to the same group and neighbourhood as Kanaun. 8 

After defeating the mountaineers, the Kiratas, Utsavasanketas and the 
Kinnaras, Raghu descended from the Himalayas and reached Pragjyotisa, 9 the 
land of the Kamarupas, after crossing the Lauhitya, 10 i.e., the Brahmaputra river. 

1 Ragfa, IV. 80. 

2 Translated by SchofF, p. 47, 62. 

n McCnndle's Ptokmy, edited by Majumdar, p. 194. 
4 Sabha Parva, ch. XXIX, 1-5. 

tJtro. Stx. On. Conf., p. 112, cf. also ^RniHIMJUfU qftftr ft^rffr ^T I ^TTS^T ^fof 
iqq*T I \ etc. quoted in Dharmapala's Atthakatha Paramattbadipinj on the Then Gatba. 

6 Markandeya Pura$a y Trans., p. 319. 

7 Rig/to., IV. 78. 

8 Proceedings of the Six On. Con.> pp. in ff. 
9 IU08w., IV. 8 1. 

10 Ibid. 

CHAPTER in 63 

Kamarupa is the same as the modern Assam. The modem district of Kamrup 
extends from Gopalpara to Gauhati. Pragjyotisa^ appears to have been used 
by Kalidasa in a territorial sense while Kdmarftpas- in the sense of the people of 
Kamarupa, i.e., Assam Pragjyotisa may have been the capital of the kingdom 
of Kamarupa. The Kdhkd Purdna* actually makes it the capital of Kamirupa. 
It is curious as well as amusing to note that Mark Collins supposes Kalidasa 
to have referred to Pragjyotisa and Kamarupa as two distinct kingdoms. He 
cit'es the poet with regard to Pragjyotisa and Kamarupa as a case in point to 
show the fallacy in Kalidasa and in other ancient Indian writers of independently 
treating the synonyms of a single geographical name. He observes: "It seems 
probable that in the RaghwattiSa when Kalidasa makes Raghu conquer first 
the Pragjyotisas and then king of Kamarupa, we have a classical instance of this 
independent treatment of synonymous names " 4 Evidently this wrong con- 
ception has been occasioned by an incorrect understanding of the text, for 
it must be noted here that all the four verses 5 which deal with Pragjyotisa and 
the Kamaiupas embody a description of the conquest of ancient Assam alone. 
In verse 81 Raghu crosses the Brahmaputra and makes the king of Pragjyotisa 
tremble with fear. 6 

'Pragjyotisa and Kamarupa 

The mention of Pragjyotisa in the same breath as Lauhitya 7 is signi- 
ficant for Pragjyotisa, identified with the modern Gauhati, 8 stood on the 
other bank of the river and Raghu put its king to terror the moment he crossed 
the river and appeared before it. 9 Then in the following three verses the poet 
describes the humiliation of the king of Kamatupa and his present of tributes 
to the conqueror. Thus Kalidasa docs not treat the two as different kingdoms, 
as Mark Coll ns wrongly thinks, but refers through them to the single kingdom of 
Kamarupa, possibly with its capital at Pragjyotisa, the modern Gauhati. This 
conquest of Raghu is said to reflect that of Samudra Gupta, and we 
shall have opportunity to comparr the two and account for the dissimi- 
] arity. 

We shall now discuss the rrmes of the kingdoms referred to in the sixth 
canto of the Raghuvawsa. They are: Mag?dho, 10 Anga, 11 Avanti, 12 Anupa, 13 Sura- 

IV. 8 1. 
Ibid., 83. 
3 Ch., 3 8. 

4 Geo. Data of Ragbff. and T)asa. 9 p. 1 5 . 
., IV. 81-84. 

8 /. R. A. S. 9 1900, p. 25. 
9 -R^#.,IV., 81. 

10 Ibid., VI. 21. 

11 Ibid., 23. 

12 Ibid., 32. 
18 Ibid., 37. 


sena 1 , Kalinga, 2 Pandy? 3 and Uttara-Kosala 4 . The kingdom of Vidarbha 5 , 
and Uttara-Kosala have been mentioned many times. Let us take them one 
by one. 


Magadha was the ancient kingdom of southern Bihar \vhich is to the south 
of the Ganges. 6 The people of the neighbouring districts still call the districts 
of Patna and Gaya by the name of Magah, which is a corruption of Magadha. 
The capital of Magadha was Puspapura 7 (Patahputra, modern Patna). 
Kalidasa refers to the kingdom of Magadha in four verses 8 and treats its king 
with particular deference. Anga which was conterminous with Magadha, has 
been naturally described next 9 . It was the country about Bhagalpur including 
Munghyr, and was one of the sixteen political divisions of India 10 , of the sixth 
century B.C. A reference to this country seems to be only conventional, called 
for by the exigency of the story. 


AvantI was the ancient name of Malwa of which Ujjam, 11 mentioned in a 
different context, was the capital. Even here Kalidasa refers indirectly to Ujjaini 
as capital in his description of the temple of Mahakala. 12 AvantI has been called 
Malwa since the seventh or eighth century A D. 13 It lay within the empire 
of the Imperial Guptas and in its capital sons of the imperial house held their 
courc in the capacity of Yuvarajas since the days of the Mauryas. 14 In the Mala- 
vikagninntra^ Agmmitra, the son and Viceroy of his imperial father Pusyamitra, 
holds his court in VidiSa, modern Blnlsa on the Betwa m the Gwalior State, the 
capital of Avanti in the 2nd century B.C. Its description occurs in verses 32-36. 


The situation of the Anupa country appears to be the southern part of the 
Central India through which the Narbada flows. 15 Its capital was 

* Ibid., 45- 

2 Ibid., 53. 

3 Ibid., 60. 
Ibid., 7 1. 

6 Ibid., V. 39, VIII; Ma/., I. 

*R.awayana 9 Adik. Ch. 32; Makabharata, Sabha P., ch. 24. 

7 &*., VI. 24. 

8 Ibid., 21-24. 

9 Ibid., 27-29. 

10 Angittara, I. 4; Vinaya Texts, II. 146; Govmda Sutta in the Digha Nikaya, XIX, 36. 

11 M.P., 27-29. 

12 R<rg/w., VI. 34. 

18 Rhys Davids: Buddhist India., p. 28. 1 think this expression came into vogue much earlier, 

14 Smith: Early History of India, p. 163. 



CHAPTER in 65 

modern Mandbata on the Narbada, It was the Puranic kingdom of the Haihayas, 
It must have been conterminous with Avanti as it has been described next to 
it. In fact it was called Avanti-Daksinapatha, 'Avanti of the southern highway/ 
during the Buddhist period, 

Siirasena, Kalinga and Pdndya 

Surasena was the country around Mathura 1 which was its capital. Sura, 
tht father of Vasudeva and Kunti, gave his name to the country of which he was 
the king. The description of this country in the story is evidently traditional. It 
mentions Vrndavana 2 and the hill of Govardhana. 3 Kalinga and Pandya of the 
castein sea-coast and far south respectively have already been identified above. 
These two may reflect actual political powers contemporary of the Guptas. 
Mahendra, which Kalidasa mentions 4 and which was a hill in Kalinga, has found 
mention among the countries conquered by Samudra Gupta in his Allahabad 
Pillar Inscription. 5 Pandyas were ruling in the south at this time with their 
capital at Madura, to which Kalidasa gives the name of Uragapura, 6 (which 
was the earlier capital of the Pandyas before their overthtow by Kankala Cola) 
in order to give antiquity to his story and thus save himself from an anachronism. 


Uttarakosala was the kingdom of Raghu and his successors. It was rough- 
ly the same as Oudh with its capital at Ayodhya 7 or Saketa 8 which the poet- 
supposes to have been identical^ It was also called Kosala. 10 Mark Collins 11 
thinks that Uttarakosala possibly represents the home province of the northern 
empire 12 (in which case it would have to be regarded as foiming with Magadha, 
the kingdom to which Dandm applies the latter name), or it may owe its place in 
the list merely to the nature of the narrative. But it may be noted here that if it 
was actully the northern empire it was surely more extensive than that of Samudra 
Gupta. 13 In the west territories of the Malvas and Abhiras and some tribes 
further ncrth seem to have been added. In the east Vanga takes the place of 
Samatata as a frontier state, and in the south we have nothing to correspond 
to the petty states of the Kakas, Sanakanikas and others of the Allahabad 
Pillar Inscription. According to Huth Kalidasa must have lived after A.D. 400. 
The Gupta administration was first established in Vanga by Chandra Gupta II 
about A.D. 400 or a little later. The point is settled by the fact that Samudra 

., VI. 45-51- 
2 Ibid., 50. 
8 Ibid., 51. 

* Ibid., 54, IV. 39*43- 

6 Corpus Inscriptionum Indie arum > p. 7, note. 

JLsjgto., VI. 59. 

7 Raghu.> XIII. 6i> XIV. 29, XVI. 11-22. 

8 Ibid., V. 31, XIII. 79, XVITI. 36. 

9 Ibid., cf. Cunningham: Geo. of Anc. India, pp. 401. sqq. 

10 &*#&#., IV. 70, IX. 17. 

11 Geo. Data of the Ragbu. and Da fa, p. 18. 

12 Ibid. 

18 Cf. The Allahabad Pillar Inscription of Samudra Gupta. 


Gupta enumerates Davaka-Vanga as one of the border kingdoms, pratyantanrpati, 
and Kumara Gupta is not known to have made any accessions to the empire. The 
point is further established by identifying with many scholars king Chandra of 
the Mehrauli iron pillar with Chandra Gupta II. This Chandra, it may be noted, 
asserts his conquests to have extended from the region of Lauhitya to that of 
Bactria. It is because of this that Dr. Smith leaves 'Davaka-Venga' out of the 
Gupta empire in his map of India of A.D. 400 given in his "Early History of India 
facing p. 300. It was under Chandra Gupta II again that the dominions of the 
Satraps in the west Malava, Surastra and probably the adjacent States were add- 
ed to the empire. 1 Malwa was included in the empire of Raghu as also of the later 
Imperial Guptas. The sway of the Imperial Guptas (Skanda Gupta) extended 
as far as Surastra. Surastra, therefore, has not been mentioned in the Raghu- 
vawsa due to its unimportance. The Gupta dominions do not seem to have 
included Kamarupa as is at'ested to by Samudra Gupta's enumerating it as a 
border kingdom m the All.P. Inscription. Banerji has identified Balavarman of 
that inscription with the homogeneous ancestor of Bhaskaravarman of Assam, 
but that indentification is probably incorrect as Assam is rrent oned as one ruled 
by a pratyanta nrpatL Smith keeps Kamarupa out of the Gupta empire in his 
map referred to above. In the }^aghuvamsa this lies outside Raghu's empire and 
is described to have been conquered by him. 

Some of the names employed, e.g. Magadho, Kalinga, Pandya, Vanga, 
Kamarupa, Anga and Vidarbha, weie probabJy m actual use. We shall deal 
here with Vidarbha in a little detail. The ^aghnramsa devotes three cantos 2 
to the story of Indumati. Vidarbha was ruled by the Bhoja family. 3 If we 
turn to the evidence of inscriptions we find, it is true, no mention of the Bhojas 
m the records of either the fifth or the sixth century, but we do, nevertheless, 
find a powerful race of kings ruling during the Gupta period in the western 
part of the Deccan, and bearing the family name of the Vakatakas. The grants 
of these kings 4 record gift of villages. Carmanka (the modern Chammak, 
about four miles south-west of Illichpur), such one, is said to lie in the kingdom 
of Bhojakata. 5 A city bearing this name occurs in the Visnu Puran<fl and is 
said to have been founded by Rukmin, son of Bhismaka, king of Vidarbha. 
Bhojakata and Rukmin have also been mentioned in the Mahdbharata 1 and placed 
in the neighbourhood of Narmada and Avanti. This city is the same as Bho- 
jakata of our inscription. Doubtless it was the head-quarters of that district, 
or visaya, of the Vakataka dominions which the inscription calls Bhojakatarajyam. 

1 Smith: Early His. oflnd., pp. 254-55; (4^- edition.) 
Rgfe,V.39> VII. 

3 Ibid., V. 39. VII. 2, 13, 20, ?fH<j,g|M<f|H: 29, 35. 

4 The Chammak and Siwani Grants, C I. I., III. Nos. 55 and 56; Dudia Grant, ed. by 

Kielhorn, Ej>. AW., Ill, No. 35, p. 258 ft 
6 *ftold<l^ C J, I., Ill, No. 55. 1. 18. 

6 Wilson's translation, Vol. V, pp. 69-71. 

7 II. 1115-1166, cf. also HarivamSa, ed. Calcutta, 1839, verse 


A tribe of this name certainly occupied the western Vindhyas in the time of 
Afoka, 1 Bhojakata may have been one of the strongholds of this race or, quite 
possibly, the citadel in which their chief the Bhoja resided. In any case, it 
remains clear that the territory of the Vakatakas not only occupied a country the 
present designation of which connects it with the ancient Vidarbha, but that it also 
included a district associated with the name of Bhoja, Thus the Vidarbha of 
the Ragbttvatirja represents the kingdom of the Vakatakas; and the use of the name 
Bfioja for the rulers of this country finds an explanation if we assume that Kali- 
dasa wrote at a time when this dynasty was predominant in the south. Vidarbha 
is the modern Berar, Khandesh, part of the Nizam's territory and part of the 
Central Provinces. It lay to the south of the Narbada os Aja had to cross the 
river before entering it. 2 Its capital was Kundmapura 3 identified with Kundan- 
pur about forty miles east of Amiaoti in Ber^r. 4 Vidarbha has found another 
mention by Kahdasa in the MdlavikdgmniitrcP m respect of an earlier story 
where it is conquered and divided by Agnimitra between two cousins of its 
ruling dynasty with the Varada or Vardha as the boundary. 

Videha^ Sindhu 

A few motzjanapadas have been referred to by the poet and may be men- 
tioned below. Videbcfi is the modern Mithila, the Tirhut or Tirabhukti of the 
Imperial Guptas. Its mention is conventional and based on the ^dmdyana. 
Videha was the name of the kingdom as well as of the capital 7 (Mithila). The 
country cf Sindhu 8 lay on both sides of the Indus right up to its mouths. Tak- 
sasila 9 and Puskalavati 10 (Taxila and Bashkal) 11 were situated in this country, 
which was inhabited by the Gandharvas, 12 i.e. the Gandharas, who were defeated 
by Bharata and whose country was divided between his two sons, Taksa and 
Puskala 13 , whose capitals Taksasila and Puskalavati were founded by and named 
after them. The description of the poet, is, in fact, conventional based on the 
Rdwdyana. l4t Sindhu has been always famous for an excellent breed of 
horses. ' Hence in the Amarakosa, we find both Saindhava and Gandharva as 
synonyms of horses. Saindhava s?lt mentioned in the same book evidently 

1 XIII. Bock Edict. 

2 Raghu., V. 42, 43. 
8 Ibid., VII. 33. 

4 Dowson: Classical Dictionary -, 4th edition, p. 171; Wilson: Malati-Madhava, Acts. I. 
Acts I and V. 

7 Ibid., XL 36. 

8 Ibid., XV. 87. 

Ra&t*,. XV. 89. 

10 Ibid. 

11 Vide p. 70. 

12 Ibid., 88. 
18 Ibid., 89. 

14 Uttarakanda, CXIV. 11. 


refers to the rock-salt found in the salt range of mountains, for it does not refer 
to sea salt as it is separately mentioned as Samudra salt and Manimantha is given 
as another synonym for Scundhava salt and the commentator MaheSvara explains 
it as "produced in the mountain Manimantha" (which can only refer to the 
Salt Range). But the most convincing proof is a passage of the Ragbu- 
vawJa 1 and that Saindhava is still understood by all salt sellers of India as rock- 
salt. Dr. Borooah says: "I have, therefore, no hesitation in identifying Mani- 
mantha with the Salt Range and asserting that it stands within the old Sindhu 
Dea." Sindhu, in later literature, meant what Arnan understood by it the 
country to the south of the Upper Indus or the province of Taksasila. We 
read in the 1 &a$)uvam$a that Rama gave this country to his brother Bharata 
who conquered the Gandharvas and placed his sons Taksa and Puskala in charge 
of towns named sifter them Taksasila and Puskala vati. 2 Kekaya, 3 the country 
between the Bias and the Sutlej and the kingdom of the father of Kaikcyl, the 
youngest queen of DaSaratha, also finds a conventional mention. 


Karapatha 4 is difficult to identify. Vallabha explains this to mean Candra- 
pathaprabhub. A. Borooah observes: "In the district of Bijnor is the large 
town of Chandpur, which is probably Chandrapura or Chandrakanta of the 
Rdmayana. We read m the Uttarakanda that the two sons of Rama's brother 
Lakshmana were appointed rulers of Karupatha (Kalidasa reads Karapatha); 
Arigada in the west af Angadapuri and Chandraketu in the north at Chandra- 
kanta in Mallabhumi. The first is the modern Shahabad in Oudh which is 
still known to its Bharata inhabitants as Aiigadapur. It is not due west of Ajo- 
dhya, as Chandrapura (Chandpur) is not due north of it. But as in colours, 
so m directions, we do not find precision of language in ancient writers. There 
is another Chandpur in the district of Furrackabad, but it can not be Chandra- 
kanta, as it is in the same direction as Shahabad. I am, therefore, almost cer- 
tain that Chandpur east of Saharanpur is the town called after Chandraketu and 
that it is situated in the land of northern Mallas. 5 " Wilson 6 locates Karapatha 
at the foot of the Himalayas. 


Brahmavarta Janapada 7 was the country between the rivers Sarasvati and 
the Drsadvati, while Kuruksetra 8 was the same in later literature. Kalidasa, 
however, while referring to Brahmavarta as a janapada, a big territorial division, 

1 Ragbu., V, 73. 

2 Ibid., XV. 89. 
8 Ibid., IX. 17. 

4 Ibid., XV. 90. 

5 Quoted in the RagbuvaarJa, edited by Nandargikar, Notes on Raghu., XV. 90. 
1 Visyu Purfpa* Vol. Ill, p, 390. 

7 M.P., 48. 

8 Ibid, 


alludes to Kuruksetra to have been the particular battle-field where the Kauravas 
and Pandavas fought. 1 Kuruksetra is identified with Thaneswar. 


Naimisa 2 is the modern Nitnsar at a short distance from the Nirnsar station, 
twenty miles from Sitapur and forty-five miles to the north-west of Lucknow. 3 
It ;s situated on the left bank of the Gumti. It has been mentioned by Ptolemy 
under the name Namkhai 4 


Nisadha 5 has been placed by Lasscn 6 along the Satpura hills to the north 
west of Bcrar. Burgess also places it to the south of Malwa. 7 


DaSarna 8 was the country roughly identical with Malwa, Eastern Malwa, 
including the state of Bhopal, was western DaSarna, the capital of which was 
VidiSa 9 or Bhilsa. Mala 10 is difficult to identify, but surely it refers to some 
high place to the north of Ramtek in the Central Provinces about the newly 
ploughed fields of which we read in the Meghaduta. 11 


Dandakaranya^ was the great forest belt commencing from the north (i.e. 
the southern portion of Bundelkhand) of the mountain chain of Vindhya ex- 
tending on the south to the regions of the river Kistna, and comprising east- 
wards the districts of Chota Nagpur as far as the borders of the Kahnga 
country. To the westward it extended as far as the two divisions of the 
Vidarbhas. 13 


In this very forest was situated Paflcavatj 1 * in the region about 15 Nasik on 
the Godavari. 

3 Ibid. 

2 Ragfa., XIX. 2. 

3 Dcy: Ceo. Die. of Anc. and Med. Ind. y p. 135. 

4 McCrindle's Ptolemy, edited by Majumdar, p. 132. 

Rflsgte., xvm. i. 

8 Dey: Geo. Die. of Anc. and Med. Ind., p. 141. 
7 Antiquities of Kathlawad and Kachb, p. 131. 
8 M.P., 23. 
Ibid., 24. 

10 Ibid., 16. 

11 Ibid. 

12 &agbu. y XII. 9. 

18 The Geography in Rama's Exile, /. R. A. S. 9 1894, p. 242. 

14 EMghu., XII. 31. XIII. 34; Rawayana, Aranya K. ch. 49. 

15 Dey: Geo. Die. Anc. Med. Ind. y p. 147, 



was also a part of the same forest and it probably included the 
Paficavati 2 , the region of the five iwfas or banyan trees. GtrakutavatuP was 
the forest region around Kamtagiri near modern Chitrakut in Bundelkhand and 
formed part of Dandakaranya as it is mentioned after a reference to the former. 4 


Lankd* has been definitely taken by Kalidasa to mean an island to the sovrth 
of India, evidently Ceylon. Rama describes his aerial route from Indra's 
plane and the first place encountered is the Indian Ocean 6 and the bridge built 
by him. Then the Malaya Mountain, the Pancavati, Janasthana and other 
places are mentioned on a northerly course of flight. 7 Thus at the time of 
Kalidasa Lanka considered to be the same as Ceylon and therefore the iden- 
tification of it with a part of Central India by some scholars (Rai Bahadur Hira 
Lai, for example) must be wrong. This island has been mentioned as a great 
centre of maritime trade by almost all classical geographers who refer to jt by 
the name Taprobane. It is the Simhala of the Sanskrit and Buddhist literatures. 

Cities and Other Smaller Localities 

Kalidasa also mentions a number of cities and a few other spots, which 
may now be referred to and identified. 

PtiskalavatJf the scat of the Government of Puskala and founded by him, has 
been identified with the Peukelaotis 9 of the Greek writers and Pou-se-kie-lo-fa-ti 
of Huen Tsang. It was the capital of Gandhara in the days of Alexander and 
Arrian places it not far from the river Indus. It was situated west of the 
Indus and is perhaps the same as Charsadda. It has also been identified 
with Bashkal north-east of Hasta-nagar as it agrees in name, but the former 
identificgtion scorns to be more probable. Taksasild founded by and named 
after Taksa, is Taxi la of the Greeks winch lies between the Indus and the Hydas- 
pcs. Archaeological excavations on its site have laid bate an enormous number 
of antiquities. Kanakhala 11 is now a small village two miles to the east of Har- 
dwar at the junction of the Ganges and the Niladhara. It is here that the Ganges 
descends from the Himalayan heights to the plains. In its vicinity there was 
a place said to have been made sacred by the feet of Siva, Carananyasa. 12 This 
place was perhaps the same as the neighbouring hill of Hardwar called Haraki- 

^ XII., 42, XIII. 22, VI. 62. 
2 Ibid., XII. 15, 24, XIII. 47. 
8 Rawajatta, Uttara K. ch. 81. 

4 Dandakaranya m Raghu^ XII. 9, Citrakuta in Ibid., 15, 24. 
*R<^.,VI. 62, XII. 63,66. 

6 Ibid., XIII. 2-1 8. 

7 Ibid., 2, 22, 34. 

8 Ibid., XV. 89. 

9 Proklais McCrindle*s Ptolemy, pp. 115-17; Paklais Schoft, p. 41 47. 
10 R^#.,XV. 89. 
n JW.P., 50. 
"Ibid., 55. 


paid, the foot of Hara, which is called Carananyasa in the Sambhttrahasya. But 
there is one difficulty in this identification for Kalidasa speaks of the yaks and 
sarala pines 1 before it which would locate this place somewhere further up. 
Angadapura and Candrapura have already been identified above. 

Hastindpura* the capital of the Kurus, is now entirely diluviated by the 
Ganges. It was situated twenty-two miles north-east of Meerut and south- 
west of Bijnor on the right bank of the Ganges. Kalidasa has fallen a victim 
to* anachronism while making it the capital of Dusyanta as it was founded 
by Hastin who lived several generations after him. It is not possible to iden- 
tify SacttJrthcP and Sakrdvatdra* but they must have been somewhere near Has- 
tmapura as Dhivara of the Sdkuntala belonged to the region of Sakravatara 5 
which seems to have been a territorial division in which Sacitirtha was situated. 6 
Sacitirtha was a sacred pkce as the name signifies and must have been on the 
Ganges near Hastinapuro where Sakuntala's ring is said lo have been lost. 7 
PuskarcP refers to the region about the lake of that name some six miles from 
Ajmcr. Madhupaghna* near which Mathurd modern Muttra, was founded, 
has been identified by Growse u with Maholi five miles to the south-west of 
Muttra. Vrnddvana*- 2 is the modern Bindraban in the district of Muttra and 
seems to have already attained celebrity in the time of Kalidasa. By the hill 
of GovardhanaP has grown up a village Govardhan fourteen miles west of Muttra. 

Ayodhjd^ and the capital of Raghu : nd of the kings of his line, is the modern 
Ajodhya. Sdketa has been used by Kalidasa as a synonym of Ayodyha but 
the Buddhist works 16 take it to mean a city different from Ayodhya. NandJ- 
grdmay 1 where Bharata is said to have resided during the exile of Rama, 18 is a 
suburb of Ayodhya and is perhaps the same as Nundgaon, some eight miles 
to the south of Fyzabad and close to the Bharatakunda. Saravati, 19 the later 
Sravasthi of the Buddhist works, is Sahet-mahct on the bank of the river Rapti 
in the district of Gonda in Oudh, 58 miles north of Ajodhya. Although there 

, 53 

p 128. 

3 Ibid. p. 172 

4 Ibid ,p 182 

g q^NdKl'pTlf ^dHsfo?r Ibid, p. 172 

6 Ibid. 

7 Ibid. 

8 Ra&tf., XVIII. 31. 

9 Ibid., XV. 15. 

10 Ibid., VI. 48, jfsrcT Ibid., XV. 28. 

^ pp. 32, 54. 
I. 50. 

13 Ibid., VI. 51. 

14 Ibid., XIII. 61, XIV. 29, XVI. 11-22. 

15 Ibid., V, 31. XIII. 79, XVIII. 36. 

$amyutta Nikaya, edited by L. Peer, Pali Text Society, 1884-1904, Vol. Ill, p. 140, 
places it on the Ganges. 

17 &&*., xn. i s. 

18 Ibid. 

19 Ibid., XV. 97. l 


is no direct mention of Prayaga, its allusion may be warranted by the poet's 
reference to the great sanctity of the confluence of the Gariga and Yamuna 
(Yamundsangama 1 }. On this very confluence he speaks of the existence of a city, 2 
the capital of Pururava, evidently Pratisthana, modern Jhunsi opposite to 
Allahabad across the Ganges. Of course, the reference is conventional. Kati 3 
is the modern Benares and the place where Ahilya was rendered her old self 
again from the stone with (he touch of the foot of Rama 4 is shown to be the 
Ahilyaghat at Buxar in the Shahabad district of Bihar. Mithild? the capital ef 
ancient Videha, is Janakpur in the Darbhanga district of Bihar. Puspapura* the 
capital of Magadha, was the same as Pataliputra, modern Patna. Pragjyottsa? 
the capital of Kamarupa, has been identified with Kamakhya or Gauhati 8 on 
the Brahmaputra in A sam. 

Ramagiri, 9 which Kalidasa says to have been purified by the stay of Rama 
and Slta in their exile, 10 is Ramtek about twenty-four miles north of Nagpur 
in the C. P. Ramtek is now a tahsil in the district of Nagpur. At Ramtek there 
are several temples dedicated to Rama, his brothers and wife. It is considered 
a very sacred place and a big fair is held on every Purnmia of Karttika. There 
is another name 'Sinduragm/ i.e. c the vermilion point' given to Ramtek in a 
mutilated local inscription 11 of the Yadava king Ramachandra dating from the 
close of the i3th or beginning of the i4th century A.D. 12 because of the red 
stone, which when newly broken, looks blood-red, especially when the sun 
shines on it. It is significant that while staying here the Yaksa portrays the 
figure of his wife on the stone with red-stone 13 which is gem. This fact settles 
this identification beyond doubt. On the north of Avanti lay another prin- 
cipality with its capital at DaSapura^ modern Dasor, which is the same as Manda- 
sor in Malwa where the inscription of a guild of silk- weavers referring to the 
repairs of a sun temple was discovered. Vidisa 1 * is Bhilsa in Malwa in the 
state of Gwalior on the river Betwa, about 26 miles to the north-east of Bhopal. 
It was the capital of ancient DaSarna as mentioned in the Meghaduta 1 *. Four 
miles from Bhilsa there is a detached hill with vast remains of antiquity which 
may have been the site of the old town. It was the seat of the Government 

51; R*^., XIII. 54-57- 
2 !//>&., p. 121. 
8 Ibid., pp. 26, 31. 
*R^//., XI. 33-34. 

5 Ibid., 32. 

6 Ibid., VI. 24. 

7 Ibid., IV. 8 1. 

8 /. JR. A. J., 1900, p. 25. 
* MP,, i. 

10 Ibid. 

11 7. A., XXXVII, p. 202. 

11 E/.IW., Vol. XXV. ff. 765. 

15 Ibid., 25;AfJ/.,pp. 89,97. 


of Agnimitra 1 during the Sunga period. Ujjaint* stood on the site of modern 
Ujain on the bank of the Sipra and was otherwise known as Vifdld? It was 
one of the seven sacred cities of India. It was the principal stage on the route 
from the Deccan to Sravasti and the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea refers to it as 
a great centre of trade for all produce imported at Barygaza, whence distribu- 
tion was made to the Gangetic kingdoms. 4 Kalidasa has shown marked fami- 
liarity in describing this city 5 . It was the capital of AvantI and there stood 
as -now the Siva temple of Mahakala. 6 MdhismatF the capital of Anupa, 8 the 
kingdom of the Haihayzs, has been identified with Mandhata on the Narbada. 9 
Kusdvatt the capital of Kusa, was situated in the defiles of the Vmdhyas 11 as 
we learn from the RagburaMsa that Kusa had to cross the Vindhyas 12 ?nd the 
Ganges 13 to re-inhabit the old capital of Kosala, Ayodhya, and therefore it is 
wrong to identify it with Sultanpur on the Gumti in Oudh as done in Thorn- 
ton's Gazetteer. Kundmapura^ the capital of Vidarbha, has already been dealt- 
with in connection with Vidarbha above. SomatithcF* was a place of pilgrimage 
in Kuruksctra. 16 Karnat/rtha 11 was another place of pilgrimage which is difficult 
to identify. 

Gokarna 1 * is a celebrated place of pilgrimage in south India. It has been 
identified with Gendia, 19 a town in north Kanara, Karwat district, thirty miles 
from Goa between Karwar and Kumta, and thirty miles south of Sadasheogad, 20 
which is three miles south of Goa. The town contains the temple of Maha- 
deva, Mahabalesvara established by Havana. Kalidasa places it by the south 
sea. 21 Uragapttra* 2 the capital of the Pandyas, has already been referred to above. 
It may have been Madura whose Tamil name is Aiavay, meaning 'snake' (Uraga). 
Two fabulous cities, Alaka 23 on the Kailasa and Osadhiprastha 24 , the capital 
of Himalaya, have also been described. 

1 Mai , pp. 89, 97. 

2 MP., 27, 29; (R/7<^*., VI. 34.) 

4 Translation by Schoff., p 42. 

5 cf. AfP., 27. 

6 MP., 54, xpii^ Ibid., 33. 

* Ra&lm.y VI. 43. 

8 Ibid., 37. 

9 Pargiter: Markandeya Parana, p. 333, note;/. R. A. S., 1910, pp. 445-46. 

10 R^., XV. 97," XVI. 31." 

11 Ratxayana, Uttara K. ch. 121 

12 R^gA.,XVI. 31. 

13 Ibid., 33. 
14 Ibid.,VIL 33. 

16 Sdk., p. 22. 

18 MbL, Salya P., chs. 44, 52. 

17 Sak. 9 Act. I. 
18 R^/y., VIII. 33. 

19 Dey: Geo. Die. Anc. Med. Ind., p. 70. 
20 Ncwbold: /. A. S. B. y Vol. XV. p. 228. 
21 TW*r ^T*ft^' Ragb*., V11L 33. 

22 Ibid., VI. 59. 

23 K., VI. 37; M.P., T.U. 63. 24 K^., VI. 33, 36. 



The State 

Hindu polity, as we gather from the works of Kalidasa, divides 
the State (rajyani) into seven parts to which, like the modern political 
thinkers, 1 it gives the name angdh? i.e. limbs, thus affording it the sense 
of an organism. These seven limbs to which the poet does not speci- 
fically refer by name have been distinctly treated in works on polity. 
On the authority of the Amarakosa^ they may be enumerated as the following 
components of State, viz. the King or the Lord, Ministers, Political allies, Treas- 
ury, the Nation, Fort and the Forces. 3 "The kingdom," says the Sukraniti^ 
"is an organism of seven limbs, viz. the Sovereign, the Minister, the Friend, 
the Treasury, the State, the Foit and the Army/' 4 The same treatise elucidates: 
"Of these seven constituent elements of the kingdom, the King or Sovereign 
is the head, the Minister is the eye, the Friend is the ear, the Treasury is the mouth, 
the Army is the mind, the Fort is the arms and the State is the leps. 5 " All of 
these together contribute to the existence of the State and the well-being and 
prosperity of the Government, and the loss of any one of these may render the 
whole system imperfect. 6 

Theory of State and the Nature of the Kings 9 Relationship with the State. 

Of these seven limbs of State the king was the first and foremost in impor- 
tance. The institution of kingship, which had been elective and had so much 
of the democratic element in it during the Vedic age, 7 had, at the time of Kali- 
dasa, become not only hereditary but had come to be considered even divine. 
Kalidasa' s ideas about the kingship and State are very similar to those of Manu 
whom he almost literally follows in his conception of the nature of the king's 

1 Secley: Introduction to 'Political Science > pp. 19 flf. 

2 TLagbu.) I. 60. 

3 MI^M^^KI^N^lft^ I ^MHIlft cf - Kaujilya who has the same, Book VI. i. 
Also cf. 

HIcil *<<!* *FteK<J^ ^TT ^T I 

Matin., IX. 294. 

Kamandakariltosara, IV. i. 

4 Ch. I. 121-122. 

5 Ibid., 122-124. 

6 KStnandakaifitisara, IV. i. 2. 

f Hindu Polity^ Part I. pp. 11-16. 


relationship with the State 1 and whom he so frequently names 8 in his works 
while describing the character of the king's control over State and while enume- 
rating; his virtues. Kalidasa's handling of the polity, therefore, is naturally 
traditional. Following Manu, 3 the poet also considers the king to be an ex- 
traordinary being. The king is the 'essence of all existence, an embodiment 
of all light/ and by him, 'the highest of all, is the Earth trodden. 4 ' When Sudak- 
sina, the queen of Dilipa, becomes quick with child, the Lokapalas, as it were, 
eriter her body 6 . Samudra Gupta has also been referred to in the Allahabad 
Pillar Inscription 6 to have performed acts not possible for m?n to accomplish. 
Thus Kalidasa with Manu considers the king to have acquired his State through 
his divine right to ir. In him, it was supposed, were united the energies of the 
most powerful gods as the following verse will show ; "Indra sent showers 
of rain; Yama checked the rising tendency of diseases; Varuna had his watery 
paths safe for the work of manner,; Kubera too increased his treasury 7 ____ ". 
Thus these Lokapalas, whose powers he has inherited, help him. The Sukra- 
nlti also refeis to these divine elements in the king in verses 141-43 of Chapter 
I, and it further elucidates the same in the following verses 144-151. Th<- king 
was above law and no mortal could sit in judgment on his deeds. The divine 
forces withir himself could try him for his crimes, and if we care to peep through 
the common surface of events into the real sense of the poet, we shall stand face 
to face with the subjective tnal of a king in the Abhijndna Sdkuntala. There the 
King in the capacity of a chastizcr of the renegade (inmdrgapi asthitdndnf) pro- 
nounces a cold and cruel punishment on the apostasy of a lady who had abandoned 
the ughteous path and had thus defiled her father's hermitage The King him- 
self had been a patty in the consummation of her crime, and when the trial of 

spff ^PTT sr*ffa: I R^., XIV. 67. 

2 ibid., I. 6, 8, IT, 14, 15, 17, II. 33> IV. 7, IX. 3, XIV. 67, XVIII. 40; also cf. Ibid., XIV. 

10, XVI. 22, 24, 36. 

T. ll Mantfsmri^VLl. 3. 

frfocft ^TT I 

ibid., 5 


n ibid., 7 . 


II I bld - 8 - 

., I. 14; ^r t^T f^^ f *f^ra^*Tf^ti Ibid., 

I. 28. 9R7TT*TS?^ Ibid., VI. 21. 

Ibid., II. 75, III. n, XVII. 78, Cf. fen: 5r%5: ibid., III. i 4 > 

Ibid., I5 

n Verse 5. 


the criminal had been disposed of, the divine elements within his body prepared 
him to take his own trial. The King consequently fell a victim to subjective 
tortures and mental yearnings of unbounded grief 

The King 

The King was designated by almost divine attributes like Bhagavan 1 , Prabhuh 2 , 
Jagadekanathah 3 , Isvora 4 , I& 5 , Manusyegvara 6 , PrajeSvara 7 , Janesvara 8 , 
Deva 9 , Naradeva 10 , Narendrasambhava, 1 * Manusyadeva, 12 his other epithets 
besides these being Rajendu 13 , Vasudhadhipa 14 , Bhumipati 15 , Raja 16 , Pnyadar- 
sana 17 , Arthapati 18 , Bhuvohhartuh 19 , Mablksita 20 , Visampati 21 , Prajadhipa 22 
Madhyamalokapala 23 , Gopa 24 , Mahpala 25 , Purusadhiraja 26 , Ksitisa 27 , Nrpa 28 , 
Parthiva 29 , Narendra 30 , Sacivasakha 31 , Adhipati 32 , Samiat 33 , Nrsoma 34 , 
Ksitipa 35 , Nar^l^kpala 36 , Agadh^sattva 37 , Dandadhara 38 Prthivlpala 39 Bhflitaraka 40 , 

I. y Act. IV. 
2 Ragbt/., V 22. 
8 Ibid,, 23. 

* Mai., Act. IV; Ra&bu , III. 5, IV. 81, 84, V. 39. 
5 R^//., IV., 83. 
Ibid., II. 2. 
7 Ibid., III. 68. 
Ibid., XI. 35. 
*Sak., p. 68; Vtk.,\>. 64. 

10 Ragfw. 9 VI. 8. 

11 Ibid., Ill 42. 

12 Ibid., II. 52. 

13 Ibid., 1. 12. 

14 Ibid., 32. 
IB Ibid,, 47. 
"Ibid., 27, 57. 
17 Ibid., 47. 

"Ibid., 59, IX. 3- 

19 Ibid., I. 74, VII. 32. 

20 Ibid., I. 85. 
a Ibid., 93. 

22 Ibid. III. 42. 

28 Ibid., 16 

M Ibid., 24, IV. 20, XV. 44- 

Ibid., 34. 

M Ibid., 41. 

27 Ibid., 67. 

2 Ibid., 71. 

Ibid., HI. 21. 

80 Ibid., III. 36. 

ai Ibid., IV. 87. 

82 Ibid., V. 33. 

88 Ibid., II. 5, IV. 88. 

w Ibid., V. 59. 
85 Ibid., 76. 

8 Ibid., VL i. 37 Ibid. 8 Ibid., IX, 3. 

* Ibid., XV. i. 

40 AK/., p. 38* This has also been an epithet of the Gupta Emperors Vide the 
Allahabad Pillar Inscription of Samudra Gupta; Udaigiri Give Inscription of Candra Gupta II. 

CHAPTER iv 77 

etc. His queen was variously called as Devi 1 , Rajni 2 , Mahisi 3 , or Agramahisi 4 , 
when referring to the chief queen, MahadevI 5 , and Bhttmi 6 . These epithets, 
howevei, were as much of the poet's times as of earlier ones. It was supposed 
auspicious to have a look at the godly person of the king and people flocked to his 
palace for the purpose 7 . 


The King had majestic paraphernalia known by various terms like 
paricchada 8 , rajakakuda 9 , nrpatikakuda 10 , rajyacihna 11 and Parthivalmga 12 , etc. 
Kalidasa has made use of the term Paricchada to denote paraphernalia. Paricchada 
is what covers or surrounds a person, paraphernalia in general, external appendages 
of royalty, insignia. The principal emblems of royalty enumerated below 
were supposed to represent the sovereign authority. The following emblems 
have been referred to by the poet: a throne 13 , an umbrella 14 , a pair of flywhisks 15 , 
a crown with a central gem 16 , a sceptre 17 , a conch 18 of victory 19 , a canopy of 
state 20 and a golden footstool 21 . Besides the above there were the bards 22 like 
those attached to the Imperial Guptas 23 who sang his panegyrics and those of 
his forefathers, heralds 24 , who proclaimed the hours of the day, his vassals 25 
and other attendants 28 including the tradesmen 27 , and Yavanis 28 and Kiratls 29 . 
An assembly-hall 30 (Sadogrha, Samsad, Sahha) was invariably associated with the 

1 tLagbu., III. 70, V. 36, XIV. 32, Vtk., pp. 28, 64; Mai., p. 105, V. 12; Sak., p. 81. 
2 Ragfa.,I. 57; Ma/., p. 1 6. 

3 Ragfw., VIII. 82, XIV. 5. 

4 Ibid., X. 66. 
*Sak., p. 128. 

6 Ibid., p. 193; Vtk., pp. 53> 54J Ate/., p. 53- 

7 Raghu., XIX. 7. 

8 Ibid., I. 19, IX 70, Vtk., pp. 93, 94. 

9 Ratfni., XVII. 27. 

10 Ibid., III. 70. 

11 Ibid., II. 7. 

12 Ibid., VIII. 1 6. 

13 Ibid., VI. i* XVII. 7, XIX. 57. 

14 Ibid., II. 13, 47, IV. 5, 17, XIV. 11, XVI. 27, XVII. 33, XVIIIJ 

15 Ibid., III. 16, UV. 17, XIV. n, XVIII. 43; KM., I. 13; Vtk., T 

16 Ratfw., VI., 19, IX. 22, X. 75. 

17 Ibid., X. 75, XIII. 59. 
" Ibid., IX. 3. 

19 Ibid., VII. 63. 

20 Vtk., IV. 13; Ra&n., XVII, 28. 
21 R^.,VI. 1 5; XVII. 28. 

22 Ibid., IV. 6, V. 65; Vtk., IV. 13. 

Bhitan stone Pillar Inscription of Skanda Gupta, verse 7. 

25 Vtk., III. 19. 

26 Kaghu., I. 37, II. 4>9* 

27 Vtk. 9 IV. 13. 

88 Sak., pp. 57, 224; Vtk., p. 123. 

Ragbu., XVI. 57. 

"Ibid, III. 66, 67, 3 XV. 39. ^R XVI. 24. 


sittings of a King. Of these, three the umbrella and the pair of fly-whisks 
were absolutely indispensable. They constituted the real emblems of royalty 
and could on no account be given away 1 (adeya frajam). Although these occur 
in the description given about ancient kings, they as well formed emblems of 
royalty during the poet's time. 

Simbdsana 1 was the throne of a king and was naturally costly, made of gold 
with set gems. T.A. Gopinatha Rao explains it as 'a four legged seat, circular or 
rectangular in shape and one hasta or cubit in height. The four legs of this sat 
arc made up of four small lions 3 .' When set with jewels and not made of gold, it was 
called Nrpasana or Bhadrasana. The Manasara gives nine varieties of a throne 4 . 
Kalidasa alludes to the white and spotless royal umbrella, the 'dhavala-chattra' 
kind of the Manasar^, and makes it, along with the pair of fly- whisks made of 
the yak's tail, the three emblems which must at all costs be retained by a king 
(adeya trayam*}. Srwitana was a canopy of state decked with gold. This canopy 
ordinarily signified the ceiling of the assembly-hall or a (dndani in its absence. 
Ceilings ornamented with gold lines are not rare even now in royal palaces. The 
addition of srl to vltdnam may have been intended to indicate excellence or the 
quality of being sacred to the goddess Laksmi, or it may refer to a particular 
kind of ceiling such as is met within royal palaces, the idea being that it is sacred 
to Laksmi inducing her to live under it. Being a poetical expression, it may as 
well be a decorative phrase. 

"Personal Qualities of the King 

Priority of birth supported by qualities determined the choice of his 
successor by an old and retiring sovereign. The Sukrariiti lays more stress 
on the qualities than on the point of birth. It observes: "The King is honoured 
.because of these qualities. It is not birth that makes a king. He is not respected 
so much because of his ancestry, as for his prowess, strength and valour." 7 There 
Were, of course, instances, like Agnivarna, that warrant of a claim simply by birth 
^et the poet is advocating the cause of administrative propriety which is borne 
fcut jby facts 'of' Itistory as we shall see below. Kalidasa, like the father of 
"Samudra Gupta 9 ,* stresses the point of personal abilities 9 more than that of the 
priority of -t>irtri. ; H^re we may point out the remarkable identity on this point 
Between the r vfe\^s.<bf the Imperial Guptas and those of Kalidasa by citing the 
nscription which records that Samudra Gupta was chosen by 
other princes of the family who were rendered crestfallen 
by thls^pfeference over them, while the courtiers and ministers approved of it 

*Ibid., m. 16. 

Ibid., XIX. 57* 

8 The Hindu Iconography, Vol. I, Part I, p. 21. 

4 P. K. Acharya: Indian Architecture p. 60. 


6 R*gA., IIL 16. 

Ch. 1.365-64. 

8 Allahabad Pillar Inscription. 

' &tes T& ^r^mr ^hf*r &**., xvi. x. ^fcmt ^r: xvn. 34, 75 > gfMMi; TTT xvm. 

49; Vik., V. 2X. 


with sighs of relief 1 . First of all, he enjoins upon a king to possess a 
robust health, for a perfectly healthy body alone can serve the end of protec- 
tion 2 which is the principal duty of a king. He should be of dauntless courage 
and be first able to protect himself 3 . He should have a clear knowledge of the 
scriptures 4 and of the various ridyas* to aid him in the dispensing of justice. He 
should be righteous in his conduct and absolutely unattractcd by vices 6 . Bad 
company which generates a tendency to do evil he should particularly shun and 
avoid 7 , and even in his duties towards artha and kdma he must remain scrupu- 
lously righteous and generate righteousness in them 8 The ArthaidstrtP enjoins 
on the king to keep his senses under complete control. It says: " ---- whoever 
has not his organs of senses under his control, will soon perish, though possessed 
of the whole Earth bounded by the four quarters." This point of perfect self- 
restraint is the constant refrain of Sukra which has been maintained throughout 
his treatise 10 . The latter is of opinion that the king should be of measured in- 
dulgence and that within due limit it is even commendable 11 . Somudra Gupta 
is reported to have been 'accustomed to associate with learned people ' 12 Kali- 
dasa says that the king si ould be endowed with qualities of both kinds, stern and 
tender 13 (bhlmakdntaih guiwift) which help a king m'g ^tting endeared to his subjects 
without their becoming insolently free with him. "Popular and pleasing qua- 
lities 14 ," asserts Kalidasa, are the necessary requirements of a king. He must 
not indulge too much in the four traditional vices of kings, i.e. hunting, gamb- 
ling, drinking and women 15 . He must keep all the secrets of his Government to 
himself 16 . He was to govern his people in the manner cf a father governing 
his children 17 . The Msnd?sor Stone Inscription calls Bandhuvarma c a brother 

frftw frftrenr qr^N'jssffftfa u 

2 ., I. 13 

3 *nftTOI?^W*ft Ra$u., I. 21. 

'd cf. Hathigumpha Inscnption of King Kharavcla. 

5 R^IMT qr^r ifagbu^i 23 jt^^^rff^rHf ibul , 8. 

Ibid, 23. ^Hlt^^fafTT. Ibld - 
"ibid., XVIII. 14. 

^TFrTT W V? Ibid., I. 25. M., I. Ch. VI. 

$ukranjtt. 9 Ch. I. 
11 Ibid., 215-16, 230-32. 

All. p. Ins., Vase 3. 

13 Raghu., I."i6. 

14 ^ftoFRH: ^r Ibid., XVIII. 49; ^4^^: Vlk *> V - 2I - 
16 Ragbu., IX. y. Manu quoted by tke commentator. 

16 hu., I. 20. The commentator quotes Yajfiavalkya 

f.,ii. 48- 


of his subjects 1 / Kalidasi here refers to the qualities of an ideal king and in 
many cases these may not have been possessed by his contemporaries, although 
the Gupta Kings very nearly came to his standard of an ideal king. 

As has been pointed out by Prof. A. B. Keith, Kahdasa has portrayed in 
Dilipa the figure of a dutiful protector. His Raghu is described as "the highest 
type of selfless nobility in a king, illustrating the complete harmony between 
'bhoga' (enjoyment), and 'tyaga' (renunciation) and the 'yathakamarcitarthitva'and 
'tyagaya sambhrtarthitva' of Raghu. In the Aja's remorse for his wife is shown 
highly tender humaneness common with the king among the most ordinary of 
his subjects 2 ," This last incident, the origin of which is not traceable in any 
of the Purdnas or in the 'Kdmayana^ and what is entirely a creation of the mind 
of the poet, also adds much more weight to the greatest of renunciations, that of 
abandoning Sita by Rama, and makes it plain how an ideal Hindu monarch, though 
so tender as Aja in his love towards his wife, could easily become strong and 
impassive in his duty as Rama and send away his very wife, loving and 
immaculate, for the sake of his people. As a king Rama felt it his duty to lay 
dowr an example of rigid moral purity, and to show that all his acts were above 
suspicion. "No kingly ideal of later times can enjoin a better precept or point to 
a worthier model; and it is but fitting in the nature of thing* that Ramarajya 
should become in popular parlance a common expression for the ideal Govern- 
ment, where the interests of the people are placed first, even before those of the 
sovereign." 3 

"With an Indian sovereign," as portrayed by Kalidasa, "kingly grace was 
not incompatible with simplicity, that the selfless nobility of a king never revolted 
against his using certain utensils instead of vessels made of gold, and that for the 
sake of the people and for their confidence no sacrifice was considered too great 
by the king 4 ." To choose such a lord royalty indeed did but wait for her master's 
consent like a discreet daughter waiting for that of her father 5 . It is interesting 
to note here a striking similarity of this idea of the poet to that of the Junagadh 
Rock Inscription where the exploits of Skanda Gupta are glorified. "The god- 
dess of fortune and splendour," says the panegyrist, "of her own accord selected 
as her husband, having in succession (and) with judgment skilfully taken into 
consideration and thought over all the causes of virtues and faculties, (and) having 
discarded all (the other) sons of kings (as not coming up to her standard 6 ). The 
king was expected to be quite adept in regal ceremonies (wdhijnab 1 }. The 
objects of the senses he must strongly suppress 8 . 

1 Verse 26, 

2 A. B. Keith: A History of Sans. Lit. 
a Ibid. 

* Ibid. 

V. 38- 

., V. 3. * Ibid., 23. 


Duties of the King 

King, the central figure of the State, was not a free man but was 
burdened with heavy responsibilities. "The word Rajan and its original Rat 
literally mean a ruler. It is connected with the Latin Rex. But Hindu political' 
theorists Ivive given it a philosophic derivation. King is called Raja because 
his duty is c to please' (Ranj) th c people by maintaining good government. This 
philosophic interpretation has been accepted as an axiom throughout Sanskrit 
literature." 1 Kahdasa also has to offer the same definition of his king 'Raja 
is so called for he pleases his subject 2 , (Rdjd prakrhranjavaf). The king was 
expected to be an expert in pleasing (i. e. winning over the hearts of) his 
subjects 3 , and he was aptly commended when his benign rule pleased 4 his people. 
^\\^Sukranlti prescribes tours for the king in his kingdom to see 'which subjects 
have been pleased and which oppressed by the staff of officers 5 / and it enjoins 
upon him to 'tout thc city on the back of elephants in order to please the 
people 6 . Pleasing of people has been emphasised as a principal trait in thc king 
in the Gupta inscriptions also 7 . His importance has been summed up by the 
poet as embodied in the old saying Kdjd Kd/asya Kdrcmavfi, king is the cause of 
time. This very phrase is met with in the Sukrantti. It say : "The king is thc 
cause of the setting on foot of the customs, usages and movements and hence 
is the cause or maker of time (i.e. the creator of epochs). If the age and time 
were the cause (of usages and activities) there could be no virtue in the actors." 9 
At another place the same treatise observes : "Thc prince is the cause of time 
(the maker of his age) and of the good and evil practices. By a terrible use of 
his engine of sovereignty, he should maintain thc subjects each in his proper 
sphere." 10 The line of argument followed here by both Kahdasa and the 
Sukrariiti is that thc king's activities generate the spirit of the age. The dcara 
makes the epochs of time, and the king makes the dcani> therefore the king is 
the maker of kaJa or time. Vrajdranjana was considered the principal duty 
of a king By the very virtue of his being a king, as the etymology of his 
designation shows, he was commanded to dispense with his first duty, the task 
of pleasing his people. 

This act of pleasing the people, required of the king to perform 
the duties of administration which involved hard work, for the work of 
governance (tantra) was not an easy affair and the royal office was no sinecure. 

Xl K. P. Jayaswal: Hindu Polity, Part II. Ch. XXII. p. 3. 
2 Ragbu. 9 IV. 12: ^frfrnT^<T*TT < **M-<I**I sflTtfa Vik., p. 121. 

u., VI. 21. 

4 !/>., p. 121. 
Ch. I. 75 1-52. 
6 Ibid., 744. 

Verse 22, Junagadh Rock Inscription of Skanda Gupta, cf. 

ibid., verse 16: tfsrfersfft>T^Tt lbld -> 
8 Vik., p. 93. 
Ch. I. 43-44. 
10 Ibid., 119-120. 



It was the duty of the heralds 1 accompanying the king to announce the periods 
of the day, and particularly the fixed divisions into which the king's day was 
divided. Kalidasa makes a reference to such a division at a place 2 where he 
points that the king like the sun rested at the sixth division of the day. He 
also makes a general reference to .he divisions of the day and night as scheduled 
in the treaties on polity on which his king has to work. 3 Kalidasa docs not 
specifically refer to these divisions but since the occupation of his sixth division 
practically coincides with that of Kautilya's we may assume that he is following 
the Aithatastra in this respect. These divisions may be enumerated below on 
the authority of Kavtilya 4 : "Of these divisions during the first one-eights part of 
the day, he shall post watchmen and attend to the accounts of receipts and 
expenditure, during the second part, he shall look to the affairs c f both citizens 
and country people; during the third, he shall not only bath', and dine, but also 
study; during the fourth, he shall not only receive revenue in gold (Inrtinya) 
but also attend to the appointments of superintendents, during the fifth, he shall 
correspond in writs (patra-sampreshamud} with the assembly of his ministers, 
and receive the secret information gathered by his spies; during the sixth, he may 
engage himself in his favounte amusements or in self-deliberation; during the 
seventh, he shall superintend elephants, horses, e^hariots, unel infantry; and during 
the eighth part, he shall consider various plans of military operations with his 

At the close of the day, he shall observe the evening prayer (scmdhya). 

During the first-eights part of the night, he shall receive secret emissaries; 
during the second, he shall attend to bathing and supper and study; during the 
thud, he shall enter the bed-chamber amid the sound of trumpets and enjoy 
sleep during the fourth and fifth parts; having been awakened by the sound of 
trumpets during the sixth part, he shall recall to his mind the injunctions of 
sciences as well as the day's eiuties; during the seventh, he shall sit considering 
administrative measures and send out spies; and during the eighth division of the 
night, he- shall receive benedictions from sacrificial priests, teacher c , and the high 
priest, and h?vmg seen his physician, chief cook and astrologer, and having 
saluted both a cow with its calf and a bull by circumambulating round them, he 
shall get into his court." 

It will be noted that in devising a time table for kings, Yajnavalkya adopts 
the same plan and uses the very same words as Kautilya. 5 The t)asakumdracarita^ 
written about a century after Kalidasa, evidently quoting from the Arthatdstra^ 
follows the same plan. 6 The poet does not refer to the rest of the elivisions 'as 

&*k.* P- 157; Ate/., p. 3*> qcf^R, qfe?T etc. 
2 $ak. 9 V. 5; ^j^" 'Raghu^ XIV. 24; ^ppf ^H^N^HcjlH^ ^T^T && > P- 1 54> T 

: Vik., 11. i.; ^r^t *TS*TT. Mai n> 12; Rag**., XVIL 49. 


f<HKrHH<i$*nd: n R^gto., xvn. 49- 

4 Book I. Ch. XIX. 

e Dahkum aracarita, VIII (ViSrutacarita), pp. 257-58 (Nirnaya Sagara ed.) 


the exigencies of his dramatic or poetical themes do not admit of any such allu- 

It will be evident from this schedule of duties that the office of administra- 
tor admitted of no repose, and Kalidasa attests to this fact. 1 A king was expected 
10 shoulder the responsibilities of administration in the manner of "the sun who 
has his horses yoked but once, in that of the wind which blows day and night, 
and again in the manner of Sesa who has the load of the Earth placed on him for 
ever/' 2 Like these three gods who take no rest, the king also had to work day 
and night. Like the sun he was expected to animate life and growth of property 
among his people, like the wind to be powerful and life-giving (in its milder 
form), and like Sesa to be stable under the responsibility ot administration. He 
was the holder of the State as though, and he lifted its enormous weight over 
him. Such was the remarkable service in the cause of the people of one whose 
sustenance was the sixth part of the produce of the soil 3 which he protected. 

The endless labour and worries which the office of the king involved arc 
brought out in the following expression of a king engendered from his fatiguing 
concern: "Attainment of the desired object destroys all eagerness; the very 
business of guarding what has been obtained worries. A kingdom, the adminis- 
tration of which is in one's hands, is not for complete removal of fatigue as it is 
for causing fatigue, like a parasol, the pole of which is held in one's own hand." 4 
In this manner indifferent to his own happiness the king toiled everyday for the 
sake of his people. He lifted the great burden of the daily routine of the responsi- 
bilities of State on his head and suffered from their excessive weight while he 
relieved through his protection the trouble of those who resorted to him. 5 

The principal duty of the king towards pleasing his people was to protect 
them in return of his wages 6 (vrttih). The phrase gopta* has been used in the 
sense of a royal protector. The Sukraniti considers primary functions to be the 
"protection of subjects and constant pum&hmcnt of offenders." 8 When Dillpa 
enters the foicst the criminal Davagni (conflagration), which was burning down 
the woods, becomes suddenly conscious of its guilt, as it were, at the sight of the 
approaching protector and extinguishes at once without the help of rain. The 
forest is presently endowed with an unforeseen prosperity in flowers and fruits. 
At the entrance of the protector the strong, like the tiger, being conscious of 
their criminal conduct, give up the habit of killing the weak like the deer. 9 It 
may be noted that the term Gopta occurs in the Junagadha Rock Inscription of 
Skanda Gupta and elsewhere in the sense of a provincial Governor. 10 Under 

P- J 5 

2 Ibid., V. 4. 
8 q-55T3T<ra. Ibid. 
* Sat., V. 6. 
Ibid., 7. 

6 qTSPTT^ &*<&&., XVII. 65; q-esrsr^ 

7 Radw.*U. 14, 24, XV. 44; to., II. 52 ; Vik., V. i. 

9 Ragbu , II. 14. 

10 tf^r ^fa fawr ^n x > 7- ^TRrRrpnft 1 x I0 - Ibld> > Second Part gfarczr jfKrr 


the rule of a strong protector vana is the dominion administered by the Goptd, 
sattva is the people governed and adhikah obviously is the class of criminals who 
live upon their illegitimate acquisition from ma, the normal, peaceful and law- 
abiding citizens of the State. Davagni, again, is such chaos as prevails in the 
State at times in the absence of a powerful protector. The Gupta epigraphical 
records glorify m the king the spirit of producing good and suppressing evil 1 
as also of putting down the wicked. 2 Thus the tradition that Kalidasa follows 
in describing Dilipa's virtues was not unwarranted by the trend of the Gupta 
times. The kingdom, or the State, has been compared to an unoffending 
cow, 3 worthy of being protected from harm as a trust. 4 Even as a father protects 
his children with punctilious care so also must the king protect his subjects. 5 
And it was the proud satisfaction of a king to utter the complaisant expression 
that in his regime no offender had the daring to misconduct himself. 6 Under 
such a thorough protection the state of people was bound to prosper. A passage 
in the Malavikagnimitra attests to this idea in the following verse: "An object 
of wish on the part of the subjects, such as the removal of public calamities, 
there was none that could not be accomplished while Agmmitra was their pro- 
tector/' 7 This verse (all hough fulfilling the purpose of a dramatic convention) 
has a singular parallel in the Junagadh Rock Inscription 8 where it is said about 
Skanda Gupta that "while he, the king, is reigning, verily no man among his 
subjects falls away from religion; (and) there is no one who is distressed, (or) 
m poverty, (or) in misery (or) avaricious or, who worthy of punishment, is over- 
much put to torture.'* The varnas (castes) and diremas were equally the objects 
of the king's perpetual attention and protection. 9 Himself a non-transgress- 
or (sthiterabhettd\ he is a guide to his people in the performance of duty. Kautilya 10 
also enjoins that he must not allow people to swerve from their duty, and so 
does Sukra. 11 His people have to be kept close to the castc-dharma. 12 He 
was to be the very bolt (argala) of the great gate of the city which was dhatwa. 

?f^j i. 2; Mandasor Stone Inscription of Kumara Gupta I and Bandhuvai man, Vcisc 24. 
All. p. Ins. 

2 WTO" jfedlH^ Junagadh Rock Ins. V. 21. 

.> II. 3. 

f Ibid., II. 56. 

6 5T3TT: iMMIT PRfa TT% Ibid., 48. 

7 5fRNtH*ilifl 

i-> v. 20. 

u Verse 6 - 

9 SaJk. 9 p. 162, V. 10; Hagbu.> V. 19, XIV. 67, 85. XV. 48; XVIIL 12. 

u Ch.L 50-51. 

12 ArtbaSastra> Bk. I. Ch. III. 


Like expression is found for Samudra Gupta. The phrase of the ins- 
cription is dharmtmpractra-bandhahl It was for his act of protection that he re- 
ceived the revenues of his State as his salary 2 (ret<wa). The Sukraniti brings 
out his status and his relation with his subjects when it says: "The ruler has been 
made by Brahma a servant of the people getting his revenue as remuneration. 
His sovereignty, however, is only for protection 3 " Thus the notion of a 
master-servant has been emphasized. 

* The king was to be ever wakeful in the cause of his subjects. 4 Kautilya says: 
"In the happiness of his subject? his happiness; in their welfare his welfare; 
whatever pleases him he shall not consider as good, but whatever pleases his 
subjects he shall consider as good." 5 Exerting for their well-being he consi- 
dered his principal duty 6 (rftti). He was trained,' and he got adept in the work 
beneficial to his people. 7 But to this end he must prepare himscli. Protec- 
tion of others olls for physical capability in the protector and hence the king must 
be physically strong so that in the absence of his guards he may be able to pro- 
tect himself 8 . The epigraphs arc replete with expressions like svaviryagkptd 
of Kalidasa referring to the personal valour of the king. Some of them may 
be noted below bahzw/rya? svabhujajamtavlryyo vuyant, subhujadvayasya 11 , 
bhtijabala?* xablwjabala babiibhyaw^ etc The phtase Ksatnya, which refers 
to the caste of which he is the principal member, is derived from the idea of 
'protecting from harm/ 35 This definition of a Ksatnya is borne out by the 
Sukraniti which says: "The man who can protect men, who is valorous, restrained 
and powerful, and who is the pumsher of the wicked is called Ksamya." 16 The 
king therefore has got to be true to the spirit of the epithet hs bears. His power- 
ful limbs will indeed help him in the duty of protection and his invincible bow 
will keep the desperadoes off their designs. 17 He considcied himself wedded to 
his dominion itself, 18 and bore its weight on his shoulders in the manner of Sesa 

1 A11. P. Ins., Veisc 8. 

2 fe^T3TFf CT^R T-en^-sr^ ^ 11 R^//,XVII. 66. 

8 Ch.I 375 

4 5R^TT sr^frffefR Tlfa^ *fofr., VII, 34, SI^TTO ^pfawwufa R^gAtf., XVIII. 2. 

B Bk.,I Ch.XIX 

6 SF3TRT ^"^"f^PT Raghti , V. 33. Kamandaka has been quoted here by the commentator. 


> XVIII. 9. 
Ibid., II. 4. 
9 All. P.lns., V. 7. 

10 Junagadh R. Ins. of Skanda Gupta, V. 2. 

11 Ibid., 21. 

12 BhitanSt. P. Ins. V. 6. 

13 All. P. Ins. of Samudra Gupta. 

14 Bhitan St. P. Ins. V. 7. 
K^ghr.,n. 53- 

16 Ch. I. 81-82. 

r., II. 8;^*., I. 12. 
ir., VIII. 83. 


supporting the Earth on his hoods. 1 And thus did he govern his prosperous 
domain with a mind free from the outcome of rajogtma? The idea of a 
Sattvika ruler has been stressed by the poet. The definition of such a ruler is 
given by Sukramth tc The king who is constant to his own duty and is the protector 
of his subjects, who performs all the sacrifices and conquers his enemies, and who 
is charitable, forbearing, and valorous, has no attachment to the things of enjoy- 
ment and is dispassionate is called Sattvika and attains salvation at death." 3 
As against this the definition of Rajasa king, who has been disapproved by Kali- 
dasa, is given by the same: "The miserable king who is not compassionate and 
is made through passions, who is envious and untruthful, who has vanity, cupi- 
dity and attachment for enjoyable things, who practises deceit and villainy, 
who is not same or uniform in thought, speech and action, who is fond of picking 
up quarrels and associates himself with the lower classes, who is independent 
of, and does not obey Niti, and who is of an intriguing disposition, is called 
Rajasa, and gets the condition of lower animals or immovable things after death." 4 
Neglect of his duty occasioned many a time an ironical remark rom his queen/ 5 

Besides the duty of protection, the king had to take his seat in the Court 
of Justice 6 and adjudicate on the cases preferred to him. This he did in proper 
ame scheduled for him. 7 But we shall deal with this while discussing the affairs 
of the department of Justice. 

A close parallel of the qualities of a king as envisaged by Kaildasa is to be 
found in the enumeration of the qualities and duties of an administrator 
(Gopta y governor) attributed to Parnadatta and his son Cakrapalita, Governors, 
in succession, of Saurastra. 8 It had meant, it may be noted, a deliberation for 
several days and nights for Skanda Gupta to choose his man. This inscription 
marshals into array those virtues and functions of an administrator which are 
strikingly parallel to the ideas of Kalidasa and which prefectly echo his notions 
about an ideal ruler. 

Education of the King 

For his great task the king must equip himself. He must comprehend 
and learn thoroughly the numerous items of his duty. This was possible 
only by having a sharp insight 9 (akuinthita buddhiti) not instinctive or whimsical 
but one routine-bred, into the scriptures, for he had to refer constantly 
to the laws laid down in them. Samudra Gupta is said to have mastered 
the essence of the Sastras. 10 This is why we read in Kalidasa of the sacramental 

* Ibid., II. 74. 

2 ft5 TFstf Tsftf^Rnnr sremr ibid., xv. 85. 
Ch.I. 59-62 
Ibid., 64-68 


., VIII. 18. 

7 * <ffamffrr ^ftw sprt ibid., xiv. 24. 

8 Junagadh Rock Ins., verses 7-25. C J. I., pp. 62-63. 
Ratf*., I. 19. 

10 VMdt^l<4<^f: All. P, Ins. of Samudra Gupta, V. 3. 


bringing up of a king 0nd of the stages of his early life the leading of which 
was as important in his case vs in that of other twice-borns. The routine of a 
king's life like that of an ordinary citizen has been summed up in the follow- 
ing verse: 1 

Sai^ave abhyastavidyanam yauvane visayaisinam 

Varddhake mvmvrttlnatn yogenante tanutyajam. 

Thus the preliminary duty of a king was to understand the nature of his trust 
iind responsibility which could be achieved only by a thorough study of the 
scriptures. By using scriptures as his eyes alone he could hope to forsce and 
accomplish the uncittained and subtle ends of his endeavours. 2 Here it may 
be remarked that although Kalidasa's description refers to traditional times 
as we have seen above nrd shall see below, yet that tradition came to be referred 
to as a re?hsed ideal by the imperial panegyrists of the Guptas. 

Of courses < f study we shall deal m due context in our chapter on Education. 
Here it may be only pointed out thai besides his religious education the king 
studied (i) Sastra, 3 the Manavadharwsastrc^ for example, (2) Paraiisandhaiia 
Vidya; 5 (3) and other vidyas. 6 Kalidasa refers to four kinds of vidyas 9 which 
the commentator specifics by quoting Kamandaka as anviksiki, trayi, varla 
and dandaniti 8 . Both the Arthatdstra* and the Sukramti^ refer to these four and 
explain the first as philosophy and logic, the second as the triple Vedas and the 
third as agriculture ond commerce and the fourth as the art of government. 
On this last the Sftkrantti 11 lays added stress. Of the Sastras naturally the Manava- 
dharmaidstra-wis prominent as the poet frequently refers 12 to it particularly in the 
administrative sphere of the king. The science of statecraft (which included 
paratisandhana, diplomacy) formed a part of the king's study as would appear 
from Sarrigaravds sarcastic remark made m the Abhijndna Sakuntala in reference 
to Dusyanta: (It is strange that) "the words of one who has never been 
acquainted with wicked diplomacy since one's birth are not admissible in 
evidence whereas those of others who learn the art of cheating others as a vidya 
are believed to be true." 13 

1 Raghu., I. 8. 
2 ^T^R^TT 3; STF^T 

3 Ibid., I- 9, IV. 13. 

-> X1V - > 6 7- * 

*Sak., V. 25; TOfrRfSTFT &"&"> XVII. 76. 

*., I. 8, 23, 88, III. 30, V. 20, 21, X. 71, XVII. 3, XVIIL 50, Ssk. 9 p. 125; Aft?/., 7. 

., m. 30; ^q^r- f^r nR^^i V. 21; also cf. 

^Tcff ^ 

wfif ^: ll NitisSra, II, 2. 

8 Ragtw., XVIIL 46. 

9 Bk. I. Ch. II. 

10 Ch. I. 203-4. 

11 Ibid., 314. 

18 R^., I. 17, IV. 7, XIV. 67. 
18 5*., V. 2 ? . 


The reference to the subject of the science of diplomacy in the syallabus of 
study of a king is but natural. A king whose land was surrounded on all sides 
by natural enemies 1 (prakrtyamitrd) had necessarily to learn all the appliances of 
polity including diplomacy (paratisandbana). Besides the above, he studied the 
possible situations/or the application of the four trrditional vehicles of statecraft, 2 
namely, sdma^ ddrna^ danda and vibheda. The vidyas or sciences, which the 
king was enjoined upon to master, were four in number, namely, Anviksikt, 
i.e., logic and metaphysics; Trayi, i.e., the three Vedas R/, Yajus and Sdman\ 
Vdrtd, i.e., the practical arts such as agriculture, commerce, etc.; and Dandaniti 
the science of government or politics. Kamandaka 3 implicitly follows the 
ArthaSdstra. The school of Manu holds that there are only three sciences, namely, 
the triple Vedas, Varta, and Dandaiuti. It considers Anviksiki as a blanch of 
the Vedas. 4 Brhaspati accepts only Varta and Dandaniti as Vidyas and thinks 
the triple Vedas as a mere abridgment (Samvarana, pretext ?) for a man expe- 
rienced in temporal affairs (lokaydtrdvidaK)? For Usanas there is only one science, 
that of government, for he thinks that all other sciences have their beginning and 
end in Dandaniti alone. 6 But Kautilya, followed by Kalidasa, 7 while opposing 
the opinions of Manu, Brhaspati and USanas declares in favour of four Vidyas. 
He holds that "four, and four alone are the sciences; wherefore it is from 'these 
sciences' that all that concerns righteousness and wealth is learnt, therefore they 
are so called." 8 

Kautilya further explains that Anviksiki comprises the philosophies of 
Sankhya, Yoga and Lokayate (atheism). Righteous and unrighteous acts 
(dharmddharmau) are learnt from the triple Vedas, wealth and non-wealth from 
Varta, the expedient and the inexpedient (naydnayau\ as well as potency and 
impotency (haldbale) from the science of government. 9 Kalidasa has here drawn 
upon Kautilya who has been quoted by the commentator Mallmatha while com- 
menting on stanza 50, canto XVIII of the }Laghwamfa. It will appear from the 
epigraphs of the Gupta potentates that poecry and music were additional 
subjects of a king's sj llabur of study. Samudra Gupta is said to be ruling in the 
domain of poetry 10 through many ot his remarkable poetical pieces 11 and to have 
put tc shame 12 Tumbaru and Naiada by his mastery in music All kings could 
not be so accomplished as Samudra Gupta either in music or poetry but they 
seem to have studied these as subjects. Of a later king, Harsa, there are some 

p. ii. 

T^K K4SK XVII, 68. 
8 Quoted ante. 
4 Artbatestra> Bk. I. Ch. II. 

III. 30. 

8 Artbafastr&y trans, by R. Sham Sastri, Bk., I. Ch. II. 

9 Ibid. 

All. P. Ins. Cf. 

Ibid., V. 3. 

11 Ibid. _ 

N^^iHl^^^^^ f ii^i4 Ibid. 


poetical works extant. Skanda Gupta himself is said to have been well disci- 
plined in the understanding of musical keys. 1 The same had attained his object 
by means of good behaviour and strength and politic conduct. 2 

After the period of the brahmacarya and education was over and the prince, 
dressed in skin, 3 had already finished learning the use of arms, 4 he observed the 
ceremony of tonsure (goddndf and married. This was after th , prince had become 
mature in body resplendent in youth. 6 Manu fixes the age of tonsure in case of a 
Ksatnya at twenty-two 7 \vhile Kautilya enjoins it in the sixteenth year. He says: 
"He shall observe celebacy till he becomes sixteen years old. Then he shall 
observe the ceremony of tonsure (goddna] and marry." 8 It is queer that Kautilya 
wants a prince to study lipi (alphabets) and arithmetic after the tonsure ceremony 9 
which would suggest it to fall after marriage, i.e., in his sixteenth year. It is 
significant that Kalidasa agrees with Kautilya in marrying after tonsure 10 and he 
lays down the practice of tonsure and marriage after the completion of studies. 11 
Kautilya's injunction may be reconciled with the practice referred to by 
Kalidasa by supposing that Kautilya while mentioning the ceremony of tonsure 
twice, 12 once before and then after education, means cfiddkarma by the former and 
goddna (first shaving) by the latter. Kalidasa does the same. 13 

Heir- Apparent 

Yuvaraja, 14 the heir-apparent, was the eldest son of the king who was formally 
installed 15 to the dignity of his important office and admitted in the share of the 
administration. The purpose of his installation to this office was the mitigation 
in the old age of the king of his heavy responsibility of State. 16 The Yuvara ja, 
thus officially recognised, checked the Government from getting weaker in the 
infirmity of old age of the sovereign by furnishing him with an assistant who 

1 Bhitan St. P. Ins., V. 2. 

2 Ibid., V. 3. 

3 R^., m. 31. psr *r *&n TfrerFT tfrcft 
4 Ibid. 
6 Ibid., 33. 
6 Ibid., 32. 

7 The commentator quotes Manu (Kaghu,, III. 33) to show that the ceremony of tonsure 
in case of a Katriya was performed at the age of twenty-two. 

8 Artbatistra* Bk. I. Ch. V. 

9 Ibid. 

10 JR^gfcr., 111.33. 

11 Cf. ibid., 30-33. 

12 Artbatestra, Bk. I. Ch. V. 
18 C. Rgte., m. 28, 33. 

"Ibid., III. 35, 36, XVIII. 1 8; &., p. 82. 
16 R^., IIL 35; Vik., p. 136, 138. 

18 ^f: 5T3TFTT R<*1lc*HI ^TT facTRPpf SRfauidl SRJj; | Raglw., III. 35; also V. 66 VI. 
87. The Commentator while commenting on R^/fo., III. 35 quotes Kamandaka: 



assisted him in his civil duties at honv and entirely relieved him in his military 
campaigns abroad. 1 It was also by the appointment of a Yuvaraja that a war of 
succession was avoided. 

His Consecration 

The young prince was consecrated to the office of the heir-apparent in 
the manner of a king. Like the term rdjydWiseka for the consecration of 
a king we find the term Yauvarajyabhiseka 1 used for that of an heir-apparent. 
The office of the heir-apparent was one which was duly conferred on a 
prince after the performance of proper ceremonies and rites, 3 and it carried 
along with it a legal status, that of a functionary of the State. From the status 
of the heir-apporent that of the king was but one step which again was conferred 
on him after his predecessor in royal office with appropriate ceremonies. It 
is noteworthy that until the legal status of the heir-apparent was conferred upon 
a prince he was addressed with the designation of (kumdraf alone, but as 
soon as the proper ceremonies of his anointing to the new office were over he was 
addressed with the appellation of Yuvaraja. 5 The anointing ceremony of a 
Yuvaraja may be well instanced in the conferment of that office on Ayus, the son 
cf Pururava, as described in Act V of the VikramonwsJ. There Narada acts as the 
chief priest. The materials 6 for the ceremony are brought and the prince is seated 
on an auspicious f cat 7 . Then Narada himself performed the chief part of the 
ceremony by pouring down the sacred water which act must be performed by the 
worthiest of Brahmins. The rest of the ceremony 8 was finished by persons of 
even inferior status. Then the heir-apparent saluted 9 his parents. There- 
after bards began to sing eulogies of his ancestors and chanted their blessings 10 
hailing him as the heir-apparent (vijajatdfujurarajaK) m the following manner: 

"As the celestial sage Atn was like the creator, the moon like Atri, Budha 
like the cool-rayed (moon), and his Majesty like Budha, so do you become like 
your father by your popular qualities. In your exalted race all blessings have 
indeed been fulfilled. 11 

"Like the Ganges with its waters distributed between the Himalaya and 
the Ocean, royal fortune now appears more beautiful, being distributed between 
this your father who stands at the head of the great, and you abiding by your 
duty and of unshaken courage. 12 " 

After the ceremony was completed, the heir-apparent came to assume a 

#., III. 38; Mai., p. 102. 
2 Vik., pp. 136, 138; &*., HI. 35. 

8 Vik^ pp. 136, 138, cf. Nitisara quoted by Mallinatha, vide ante. 
*Vik., pp. 138-39. 
6 Ibid., p. 139. 

V*k., p. 139; Ragto; XII. 4. 

p. 139. 

8 Ibid. 

10 Ibid. 

Ibid., V. 21. 
"Ibid., 22. 


status sharing with his father "in the governance of the kingdom. The royalty 
was divided as it were, between him and his father, and it was now again, that 
he was said to have acquired yauvarajyahi* i.e. the sovereignty of the heir-ap- 
parent like the rajyafri of the king. The sovereignty 2 is transferred in part to 
the heir-apparent. 3 Henceforth he progresses towards realization of complete 
kingship in the manner of a phase of moon progressing towards the full-moon 
state. This indeed has the impress of the poet's time, as also of before. 

* In contemporary history also the choice of an heir-apparent seems to have 
been a usual practice. Samudra Gupta had been chosen by Candra Gupta I 
as his Crown Prince as is evidenced by the Allahabad Pillar Inscription. 4 Both 
the A.rthaSdstr<f and the Sukranitfi make the Yuvaraja a functionary of State. 
Kautilya makes him one of the Tirtbas? and Jayaswal 8 thinks that although 
Yuvaraja was not in the Cabinet he was 'certainly a Minister/ The 'KamayaruP 
and the Sukrawti^ like Kalidasa, detail the consecration of the Crown Prince. 
"The Yuvaraja had his seal, and the set formula with which he signed." 11 
The DivydvaddncF 1 informs us that Asoka had Samprati, a grandson, for his 
Yuvaraja. The princes also served the king as governors of his provinces. 
According to the Diiydvaddna Kunala was such a Governor of ASoka posted 
at Taksasila. Very often a royal prince governed his province with the help 
of a council which is evident from the edicts of ASoka. 14 Kuniararfiatya, 
again, is not an unfamiliar expression of the contemporary Gupta times. 

The usual age of the Yuvaraja at the time of his consecration according 
to Kalidasa fell at a time when he was able to bear the weight of the armour 
(yarmaharab, kavacdrhatfi). He also, like the king, had his paraphernalia of the 
sons of bards 16 singing his panegyrics and of those of the minister 17 and feudal 
kings 18 advising and attending on him. 

Consecration of the King 

In due course the heir-apparent, Yuvaraj?, was elevated to the office of 

1 Ibid., V. 23, p. 140. 

sranr Ik^,ni. 3 6. 

S ^PTNI^HI^ tf^rcnrfire =sp?*rr ibid , xvn. 30. 

4 Verse 4, quoted ante. 
5 Bk.,V. Ch. VI. 
6 Ch. II. 

t Hindu Pohty, Part II. p. 133-, cf. ArthaSastra Bk. I, Ch. iz, 8, (pp. 20-21); Bk., V. Ch. 
2, 91. (p. 245). 

8 Hindu Polity, Part II, p. 124. 

9 Bk., II. Ch. XIV.; Ibid., III. 
10 Ch.II. 15. 

11 Hindu Polity, Part II. p. 125. 

12 Edited by Cowell and Neil, p. 430. 

13 Ibid. 

14 Jaugada and Dhauli separate Rock Edict, and Siddhapura Inscription. 

15 Ragbu., VIII. 94; Vik., p. 131. 
16 Ragbu.>V. 65,75. 

Ibid., III. 28. 

|bid., 3 8; Mai., p. 10*. 


the king when on the death of his father, or even in his life time, the throne 
devolved on him, but he had to undergo a formal consecration on this occa- 
sion technically known as rajydbhiseka. 1 

The preparations for the consecration ceremony were made under the 
supervision of the Council of Ministers who were so ordered by the former king 
if he was living. 2 .The ceremony was then performed by elderly ministers 3 
with water brought in golden vessels from various sacred places (tirtbas\ from 
rivers (sarit\ seas (samudra) and lakes 4 (sarast). This was a very ancient custohi 
and was practised during the consecration of the kings in Vedic and post Vedic 
times. 6 While bringing the water mantras from the Taitttrlya Samhitd as well 
as the Satapatha Brdhmana were chanted. 6 The form seems to have been 
followed during the age of Kahdasa. 

The eldest son, who was already the heir-apparent, was given preference 
over other sons, but birth alone was not the deciding factor. Birth and virtues 
together made one worthy of the enjoyment (bhdjam) of the extraordinary jem 
(ratnavisesa) which was the State itself. 

The anointing ceremony and the investiture of the royal insignia and power 
were performed in the following manner. 

A special pavilion of four pillars was ordered by the ministers to be erected 
for this occasion by accomplished architects. 7 Under the pavilion a sacred vedi 
(altar) was raised. Then after causing the prospective king sit on an auspicious 
seat, water brought from sacred places, was poured upon him from golden 
pitchers 8 while sweet music played outside. 9 Then he received from the 
ministers auspicious articles like the dfirva grass, sprouts of the barley plant, 
bark of the plaksa tree and the wadhuka flower, 30 Thus all food grains, all 
juices, all seeds, all flowers, all sacred grasses were symbolically represented. 

Then the chief of the Brahmins 11 proceeded to recite those mantras of the 
Atharvaveda which were believed to have been endowed with the power of 
rendering him victorious over his enemies. Water was poured while the hymns 
were chanted. Just then bards approached him and sang the glories of his 
dynasty. 12 Th sndtakas were given largesses by him who now shone in 
his purity after bath. 14 It is manifest that these largesses were given first to 
the married Brahmins (snatakas) that they might utilize them in the performance 

1 Vik., p. 136; &agbu. 9 VIII. 3. XIV. 7. 

2 Vik., p. 136; Ssk., IV. 19; R^gi*., III. 70., VIII. 10, XVII. 8. 
8 Rqglm., XIV. 7. 

* Ibid., 8. 

5 Hindu Polity, Part II, pp. 23-24. 


7 fi^gfc., XVII. 9. 

8 Ibid., XIV. 7, XIX. 56. 

9 Ibid., XVII. ii: 

10 Ibid., 1 2. 

11 Ibid., 13. 
32 Ibid., 15. 
38 Ibid, 17. 
14 Ibid., 16. 


of sacrifices which a Brahmin in the state of a pupil could not do. 

Then the king issued a proclamation liberating all the prisoners including 
those condemned to death. The yoking animals like the oxen and the horses 
were unharnessed and given rest from drawing carts and chariots for some 
days, and the cows were left unmilked for the benefit of the calves 1 The 
proclamation was made ideally perfect by setting the birds free from cages 2 and 
thus liberty was announced everywhere. Kautilya 3 also enjoins upon his king ' 
to liberate prisoners on the occasion of his coronation. 

Thereafter the kin^; was led to another chamber and seated on a pure scat 
prepared of ivory and given dress and ornaments. 4 He was perfumed with 
candana, angardga^ musk and gorocana and then the tilaka mark was applied to 
his forehead. 5 Now he put on silken robes into which were woven the figures 
of flamingoes. 6 Then he stood before a mirror and saw his reflection. 7 These 
garments were studded with pearls. Then the sovereign was handed over the 
royal paraphernalia by those standing beside him which he wore on his 
person. Then he entered the royal court (sabha)* and sat the hereditary 
throne set with jewels under the royal canopy. 9 The throne was placed in the 
court-hall which was well decorated with auspicious things to suit the grand 
occasion. 10 

After the eremony of consecration was duly performed and the king assumed 
his legal status and took the reins of the Government along with the sceptre, 
he went out in the streets of his capital riding an elephant. 11 The Sukramti also 
urges upon the king to 'tour the city on the back of elephants m order to please 
the people 12 / Thus from the status of an heir-apparent he stepped to that of 
a full-fledged sovereign. 13 

It maybe noted that even a queen was consecrated if she bore a foetus. 14 
When the king inherited an imperial power he was consecrated to the 
office and status of an emperor 15 (samrdf). 

The age for coronation has not been mentioned by Kahdasa. In earlier 
times emperor Kharavela 16 was coronated after the completion of his twenty- 
fourth year, Asoka himself had to wait for coronation until that year. 

1 Ibid., 19. 

2 Ibid., 20. 

8 ArthaSastra, Bk.'II, hC. XXXVI. 
R^*.,XVII. 21. 

* Ibid., 24. 
6 Ibid., 25. 

' 7 Ibid., 26. 
8 Ibid., 27. 

Ibid., 28. 
w Ibid., 29. 
"Ibid., 3 2. 
12 Ch. I. 744. 

18 KMghu., XVII. 30. 

i* Ibid., XIX, 5 5, 56, 57- 

ibid., iv. 5. 

16 Hathigumpha Inscription. 


Vikrama 1 was consecrated in his twenty-fifth year. The Brhaspati Sfitra fixes 
this age at twenty-five. 2 

The installation of the king was naturally regarded throughout the 
kingdom as a political event of immense importance and it furnished the 
people with an occasion of much joy and enthusiasm. The highways of the 
capital were decorated 3 with much zeal. 

Amusements of King 

Among the amusements of the king were hunting, 4 public bathing, 5 
swinging, 6 music 7 and dramatic performances. 8 Kalidasa categorically points 
to the traditional and common four addictions of kings which he specifies 
as hunting, gambling, drinking and associating with women. 9 These four 
evils have been referred to by Kautilya also. 10 The poet depicts the activi- 
ties of Agnivarna in the i9th canto of the ^.aghuvamsa to a tiring length and points 
to the consequences of such evils, and at another place he praises the king 
who has kept himself aloof from them. 11 But it is remarkable that both 
Kalidasa and Kautilya refer with approval to hunting and even dwell on its 
merits, 12 Kalidasa "refers^ to it as an exercise a m which the disappearance of 
phlegm, bile, fat and sweat, the acquisition of skill in aiming at stationary and 
moving bodies, the ascertainment of the appearance of beasts when provoked, 
their signs of fear and ferocity and occasional march are its good character- 
istics. 13 " While the Sukrariiti condemns hunting, dice-playing and drinking 
at one place 14 it commends hunting as an exercise and even enumerates its 
advantages. It remarks: "The advantages of hunting are the growth of 
ability to strike the aim, fearlessness, and agility in the use of arms and weapons, 
but cruelty is its great defect. 15 " Thus Kalidasa, Kautilya and Sukra agree 
on this point. 

In defence of hunting as a good sport for kings, Kalidasa uses in the Sdkun- 
tala almost the scrne words as are used by Kautilya for the same purpose as 
has been pointed out by R. Shama Sastri in the introduction to his translation 
of the ArtbaSartra. 1 * We have a reference to a hunting suit. 17 In the graphic 

1 Hindu Polity, Pait II, p. 52. 

2 Ibid., I. 89. 

8 RtfjA// , XIV. 10. 

4 iTjzn $ak> pp. 51, 55, 56, 57, 61, 63, 64; Rag/fa,. IX. 7, 49"74J XVHI. 35. 

6 &(gA0., XVI. 64; MP., 33. 

6 Rjgto* XL 46, XIX 44; MaL, pp. 39> 4*> 47, 4, 49- 

7 Mai., Acts I and II;. K^gte., XIX. 

8 MaL, p. 2. 

9 Ra&*. 9 IX. 7. 

10 Artbatestra, Bk., VIII. Ch. 3. 

11 Ragbu., IX. 7. 

' 2 &I, II. 4, 5; Artba., VIII. 3. 

14 Ch., I. 283-84. 
16 Ibid., 667-69. 
16 p. XVI. 

'. IX, 50, 


picture that the poet gives of the hunting of king Dasaratha, he says: "The 
king permitted by his ministers went ahunting. 1 " Has hair he tied up with 
sylvan chaplct and he donned a robe of the same colour with the leaves of trees 
(tarupaldsasavarnatanucchadah^ The king then entered a forest which WPS 
already occupied by persons who carried with them nets and packs of doi/s 
which was further cleared of conflagration and robbers and which was full of 
pools of water, antelopes, birds and yaks. 3 There the king shot down deer 
boars, wild buffaloes, rhinoceroses, tigers, lions, elephants and yaks. 4 It may 
be noted th?t the poet points out that the shooting at a wild elephant was 
traditionally forbidden 5 (pratimsiddhd). The king went to the forest for sport 
surrounded by Greek women with bow in their hands and their persons 
decorated with garlands, 6 Burly morning there was a great noise occasioned 
by the buss and hurry of the preparations for entering the forest on the part 
of the fowlers and other followers. 7 

Enjoying a happy bath, surrounded by his female attendants and other 
ladies of the palace, was another diversion of the king. We read a beautiful 
description of it given by the poet in the sixteenth canto of the llaghuvamsa. 
There the king enters the water of the Sarayu with the ladies of his harem and 
disports himself in their company. 8 lie rows about in a boat with his attend- 
ing Kirati. 9 With a golden syringe 10 he throws out coloured water on the ladies 
who beat the water of the river to music. 31 The performance is termed 
Jalavihara 1 * or Vanwbara}* 

Swinging was a third amusement of the king as of the common people 
which wo shall have occasion to deal in connection with the amusements of the 
people in the chapter on social life. 

Music was also a common amusement which, when much indulged in 
made a king disrespectful to his duties of the State. In his inner apartments 
it sounded day and night resounding the whole palace, as it happened in the 
case of Agnivarno, one of the descendants of Rama, whose libertinism is des- 
cribed at length IP the mntcenth canto of the Kaghavawsa. Dramatic performance 
was yet another amusement which entertained the king. The Malavtkagnimtra 
furnishes us with an account of it in its second Act. 

The above amusements were in a few instances traditional also as has been 

tt.> JX 49. 

2 Ibid., 50. 

8 Ibid., 53. 

4 Ibid., 53, 55, 57, 59-66. 

^ Ibid., IX. 74, ;q%: ^ift ^ *$fa V ' 5- 

. 9 p. 57. 
7 Ibid., p. 56. 
Ra&K., XVI. 55-73- 

9 Ibid., 57- 

10 Ibid., 70. 

11 Ibid., 64. 

12 Ibid., 54. 

18 Ibid., 61, 67, 



shgwn by quoting authorities, but may also have naturally been diversions of 
the poet's contemporary times as several of them occur in the Mdlavikdgnimitra 
in respect of a king of later age. 



Thoughts on Polity. 

Kahdasa has at several places used technical terms of statecraft and has 
referred indirectly to works on polity. Their reference by the poet was 
bound to be conventional. Here a discussion of these terms may be 
attempted. In the M.dlavikdgnimitra y Act I, he uses the word tantrakdrcP- mean- 
ing *an inventor of practical or useful science/ While approving of Agnimitra's 
opinion his Minister says. "Your Majesty says what is held by the Sastra," 
etc. The stanza quoted there by the Minister seems to have been taken from 
some work on polity, which, now difficult to locate, was well known at the 
time of Kahdasa. Or it may be even a verse translation of some sutra on polity. 
We have a parallel use of the word tantrakdra in Palakapya's Hastyayurveda.* 
The use of the phrase tantra in the play is similar to that in Pancatantra. But 
it must also be noted that the poet uses the phrase lokatantra m a technical sense, 
in that of the practical science of administration. Tantra y therefore, read in 
due context, can mean nothing but a treatise on polity, 

Kahdasa mentions the following traditional technical terms of Hindu 
polity, namely, Prakrti? Prakrtimandala* Prakftyamtra? Arimandala* Mandala- 
ndbhi, 1 "Ldkatantra* Dandacakra? Caturvidhdm rdjariitim Caturbhirupakramaili^^ 
Trisddhctndsaktih^ Sadgmdh Kakuda Madhyama Sakti Dharmottara 
Panabandha^ 1 Randhrt ** Updyasanghdta, 1 * Pardtisandhdna* 

1 Mai., p. ii. 

2 r n 

1- P- 7 Ananclasrama Scries. 

3 JLagku., IV. 12, VIII. 10, 18, XII. 12, XIII. 68, 79, XVIIL 50, Sak., VI. 5. 

4 Ragbu.y IX.' 2. 

5 Mal. y p. ii. 

Ragto., IV. 4. 

7 Ibid., IX. 15, ^-f^q-qrai-^cqr XVIIL 20 

8 ,^., p. 154. 

9 MaL> p. ii. 

Raghu., XVII. 68, XL 55. 
11 Ibid., XVIIL 15. 
!2 Ibid., III. 13, IX. 18, XVII. 63. 

13 Ibid., XVII. 67, VIII. 21. 

14 Ibid., VI. 70. 

15 ibid., xvii. 58. snffar **wrq; xm. 7. 
18 ibid., xm. 7 ^nff^snft iv. 43. 

17 Ibid., X. 86, VIII. 21. 

18 Ibdi., XII. ii, XV. 17, XVII. 61. 

19 Ibid., XIV. ii. 

20 &*., V. 25, T^rf^srR R^-, XVII. 76. 2l Ragbtt., IV. 35- 


Dandaniti* Tfrtha* and Sadvidham balam? 

Prakfti are the subjects. While commenting on this technical phrase 
Mallinatha quotes Kautilya. On this Mr. R. Shama Sastri has made the following 
important observation in the Preface to his translation of the Arthasdstra which 
may be quoted in full to elucidate the sense of the term Prakrti: 

"A few of the words are evidently peculiar to works on political science, 
and the author has himself stated in the last chapter of the work that the use 
of the word "prakrti," in the sense of an elemfent of sovereignty, has been 
his own; and has also said in VI. i. that each sovereign state must contain seven 
members (anga), such as the king, the minister, the country, the fort, the 
treasury, the army, and the friend; and eight elements (prakrtis), with these and 
the enemy. Amarasimha calls (II, 8, 17) them seven members (rajyangam) or 
elements (prakrtis), and to designate the enemy or enemies, he has not used 
the word prakrti. So Kautilya .may be credited with having coined the word 
prakrti to designate an element of sovereignty, and to have extended the 
denotation of it so as to cover enemies also, as "prathma prakrti," first inimical 
element; "dvitiya prakrti," second inimical element; and "tritiya prakrti," third 
inimical element, and so on, as stated by him. Likewise, Kamandaka calls 
(i, 1 6, 17,) them members, and uses the word prakrti to designate" these seven 
members and also enemies (VIII, 4, zo, 25,). It would appear, therefore, that 
writers on political science before Kautilya used the word "anga," member, 
as a general term to designate any of the seven constituents of a state, and had 
no such general term as "prakrti," element, to denote the seven constituents 
as well as the inimical elements. It follows, therefore, that the use of the word 
"prakrti," in the sense of an element of a sovereign state including enemies also 
is a proof that the author using that,word must be posterior to Kautilya. In 
the Manusmrti, now extant, the word "prakrti," is used (VII, 156) in the general 
sense, as in Kautilya, and it can therefore be taken to be posterior to Kautilya. 
It follows also that Kalidasa, must have been indebted to Kautilya's 
Arthasdstra for the political terms noted above, and that Mallinathasun could 
find their explanation in no other political work than that of Kautilya, 4 " 
Kalidasa has, however, used both the terms prakrti and anga* to denote an 
element of a sovereign state. 

Prakrtimandala, lit. the circle of the subjects, by the mixim Gobalivardanydya 
("the cattle and the bull"), is limited to the people living outside the city 6 . 

Prakrtyamitra, the natural enemy, is one whose territory borders on the 
dominions of the king and is conterminous with his kingdom. 7 

i Ibid., XVIII. 46. 

a Ibid., XVII. 68. 

Ibid. I,V. 26, XVII. 67. 

4 R. Sham Sastri's translation of the Artba., Preface, p. XVJ. 

* Ragbu., 1. 60. 

6 Mallinatha observes: q 

) Comment on Ragbtt., IX. 2. 


Arimandala is the circle of enemies, direct and indirect, i.e. including both 
natural enemies and the enemies of friends. It must not be forgotten that at the 
demise of a great king a confederacy of enemies was not infrequently formed 
with a view to invade the territories of the new king on the throne. 1 The 
natural enemies, particularly, would very wisely be on the lookout of a weakness 
and a loophole in his State to pounce upon -it and make it their prey 2 on 
the earliest opportunity. 

Mandalandbhi signifies an emperor who is the centre of a circle of kings. 
Mandala is the circle of princes whose kingdoms lie on the borders of the imperial 
country. Kamandaka, quoted by Mallinatha, 3 mentions twelve classes of these 
princes, namely (i) ari or inimical kings to be subdued, (z) tmtrarn or allies, 
(3) arermitram or a friend of the enemy, (4) mitramitram or a friend of a friend, 
and (5) arimitramitram or a friend of an enemy's friend whose teritories lie 
in the rear, viz., (6) pars nigr aha whose kingdom is next to that of the chief king, 
(7) dkranda whose territory lies next to that of parsnt's, and who is likely to pre- 
vent an ally from helping another, (8) pdrsnigrdhasdra and (9) dkrandasdra whose 
kingdoms are separated by those of the foregoing; (10) madhyama, or intermediate, 
whose territory lies between those of the conqueror and the enemy; and (n) 
uddsina or one who is indifferent or neutral (neither a friend nor a foe), whose 
kingdom is situated outside the territories of the above mentioned kings both 
strong in force, and when in league with others, able to change the fortunes of 
war; and lastly (12) the imperial monarch himself more powerful than the last 
two named. Kautilya 4 gives a detailed description of the circle of kings and its 

'Lokatantra is the art of government, the practical science of administration. 
Dandacakra (lit. ^#/#==forces, cakra=a circle) signifies a whole army complete 
with all its fourfold constituents. 5 Caturvidhdm rdjanttim and caturbhirupa kramaih 
are phrases referring to the fourfold policy which the commentator explains as 
the Sdma, Ddnavidhi, Bheda and Vigraha* These were the four traditional 
political crafts of appeasement, bribing, causing civil dissension and punishing 
(i.e., war) respectively. These have been described in the Sukramti as Sdma y 
peace, Ddna> purchase, Bheda, separation, and Danda, penalty (Chapter IV, 
Section I, 51-82). Kalidasa plainly mentions that diplomacy without bravery 
is simply timidity; bravery itself without politics resembles the conduct of 
beasts; 7 so success is to be sought by a united policy of these four expedients 8 

1 &aghu. y IV. 2-4. 

8 Ibid., XII. 1 1, XV. 17, 


I 'd^lcnH 
ftPHn<iH<J TOfl": I 

Comment on R^rg^., IX. 15. 

4 Kamandaka follows Kautilya cf. Arthafastra* Bk. VI. 2. 
6 M. R, Kale: Malavikagmmttra, Notes, p. 19. 

6 Comment on Raghu.> XL 55* 

7 Ragbu.> XVII. 47. 

8 Ibid., XIV ii. 


and by striking at the vulnerable points of the enemy, 1 This idea naturally brings 
into play the significance of the term Trisddhand Saktih produced by the three 
kinds of strength, viz*, dignity (prabhdva) of the king, consultation with the 
Council of Ministers (mantra) and confidence, courage, the indomitable spirit 2 
(utsaha). The prahhdva QT prabhusakti is the power arising from the resources 
at the command and the prominent position of a king by virtue of good treasury 
and good government (kofadandajam tejas). The utsdbasakti is the power arising 
from the king's personal energy, valour and enthusiasm (vikramabalamytsdha- 
Saktih}. This is the most important of the three saktis which a king must 
possess. The mantrafakti^ the power arising from good counsel, is also important. 
Sad-gundh refer to the six expedients of success. These six expedients, which 
the king was expected to employ in gaining his object of a forward movement, 
an extension of power (prasardf y were the following according to Kautilya 4 , who 

"The circle of states is the source of the sixfold policy My teacher says 
that peace (sandhi), war (vigraha), observance of neutrality (asana), marching 
(yana), alliance (samSraya), and making peace with one and waging war with 
another (dvaidhibhava) are the six forms of state policy/ 7 

"Of these, agreement with pledges is peace; offensive operation is war; 
indifference is neutrality; making preparations is marching; seeking the protec- 
tion of another is alliance; and making peace with one and waging war with 
another, is termed a double policy (dvatdhibhdva). These are the six forms." 

The same six expedients have been enumerated m the Sukramtfi also* These 
expedients, asserts Kalidasa, completely frustrate the effects consequent upon 
the enemies* under-takings 6 and contribute to deceive the foes 7 . 

Kakuda, lit the hump of the bull, is the topmost place in the body politic. 
It refers to the paramount power with several vassals and feudatory chiefs. 
MadhyamaSakti or Madhyamalokpala was the intermediate, neutral power whose 
territory lay between those of the conqueror and the enemy. His shelter and 
protection were sought by a foiled foe of the conqueror. 8 Dbarmottara or 
dharmavijayinrpa was a conqueror who conquered a kingdom only for para- 
mountcy and without extirpating the ruling family reinstated the defeated 
monarch 9 (utkhatapratiropitah). Panabandba is the desired end, the success, 
achieved after the application of the various expedients of the statecraft. 
Randhra is a loop hole, a vulnerable point in the State. An enemy was always 
peeping in to discover a vulnerable point in. the State of his foe where he 

1 Ibid., XVJI. 61. 

2 Mallmatha quotes the Amarakoh: ^c^qfi-fiff- TT^^i|H^*ir &aghu., IIL 13. 
8 l&agbu., VIII. 23. 

4 Bk., VII. ch. L, also cf. Amarakofa, quoted by Mallinatha on Ragbu., VIII. 21 

6 Ch. IV., Sec. VII, 464-473- 

6 Ragbu., VIII. 20. 

7 Ibid., XVII. 76. 

Ibid., XIH. 7> XVII. 58. 
'Ibid., IV. 37, 43, XVII. 42. 


might strike. 1 Upayasanghdta is the organized utilization of all the expedients 
of statecraft. 2 Pardtisandhdna is diplomacy; the practice of deception against an 
enemy, 3 Vaitashrtti is the expedience of the weak. It is the conduct of the 
cane weed in the face of a powerful storm. A weak monarch has to bow down 
his head before a powerful conqueror and to lift it up again after he has passed 
over. Mallinatha quotes Kautilya while commenting on this phrase. 4 Koitilya 
recommends this policy as one fit for the weak. 

Dandanlti is the precept on polity. It is the science of statecraft. Hcmadri 
and Caritravardhana quote the following from the Kdmandaka: "Chastisement is 
said to be punishment itself, that is why the punishment is the king. Its law and 
exercise are termed as the Dandamti or the Government." 5 

as explained by the commentator, 6 refers to the eighteen Heads of 
Departments of the State. Caritravardhana explains this to mean 'the eighteen 
Heads of Departments including the minister, priest, commander-in-chief ', etc. 7 
Vallabha, however, interprets the phrase to mean 'natural inclination and its 
application to practice.' 8 But his view is obviously incorrect and cannot be 
accepted for the use of the phrase is evidently made in a technical sense in which 
it has been u'sed throughout in the treatises on polity. The ArthaSdstra of 
Kautilya refers elaborately to these eighteen tJrthas or heads of departments. 9 
Sadvidhdm balam was the sixfold strength 10 of the State, namely (i) ministers, 
(2) attendants, (3) allies, (4) guilds, (5) enemies of the enemy and (6) foresters. 

King's Policy at Home and Abroad 

Kalidasa has to give certain injunctions to his kings. A new king, says he, 
should aim at consolidating his power. He is easy to uproot. Therefore he 
should consolidate his power in the manner of a newly planted tree by fixing day 
by day the roots of his policy deep into the hearts of his subjects which would 
engender good will in them for him, and in this way he could become unassail- 
able. 11 His actions, full of mature judgment and hence averting calamity, should 

', XVII. 61, XV. 17. 
2 qraiHimqr SnTTcT: Srrfe Mallinatha on Ragbu., XIV. ii. 

^ 8 RagbH.. XVII. 76; Sak\ V. 25. 

4 ^ftwrf^pcft j^Nr. 3WTTsp j r3t 3\iti^*iHifciwr n R&gbu., iv. 35. 


G. R. Nandargikar, Notes on ^ XVII. 68. 


7 TO^fr: *frfWiTMTtw ^Mor^^Hm^i^^i^i^^ etc - tovf****** b y G - R - 

Nadargikar, Notes on XVII. 68 

8 Ibid. 

9 tfPr^tf|fl%^fir^^ 

ArtbaSastra, Bk. II. 

10 ifor *pg: 5f^*ft fereidft*' ^ I AmarakoSa. 

11 K^te., XVII. 44"; cf. Mai, I. 8. 


aim at the acquisition of prosperity, bearing fruit unobserved in the manner of 
the salt rice ripe in the interior. 1 Although powerful, he must not proceed by a 
wrong path, 2 and although capable of suppressing immediately any disaffection 
among his subjects, he should not, at all, occasion that for which a remedy would 
have to be called forth. 3 He should not violate duty for the sake of wealth and 
desire; nor these two for the sake of that duty; neither should he overlook wealth 
for the sake of desire, nor desire for the sake of wealth; for he should be just in 
his dealing with these three objects of the world. 4 Friends when kept in 16 w 
position can never return favours; when kept in high rank they begin to act in a 
hostile way towards him; so he should place his friends in an intermediate posi- 
tion. 6 The Sukrariiti thinks that 'kings have no friends, and can be friends to 
nobody/ 6 By the combination of yet amicable virtues he should appear to his 
dependents both ill-approachable and inviting as the ocean on account of its sea 
monsters and jewels. 7 The, Sukranlti also advises his king to 'punish his 
own subjects by being mild internally but cruel externally/ 8 He should take a 
middle course, that of neither too stern nor too mild 9 and should treat all with 
perfect equanimity. 10 Having formed a just estimate of military power, circum- 
stances, time and others of his own as well as of those of his enemy, he should 
make an invasion on him if he thinks himself more powerful than his enemy, if 
otherwise, he should remain silent. 11 Destroying the enterprises of his enemies 
he should be intent upon the performance of his own actions, and striking ene- 
mies in weak points, he should conceal his own defects with great care. 12 Even 
though he knows of the actions of men done in a spirit hostile to him, he should 
not give utterance to words calculated to give them pain, but silently adopt mea- 
sures to thwart their object. 13 

The political measures or diplomatic schemes of the monarch whose policy 
of government should be secret and whose attitudes and gestures should also 
equally be inconceivable should only be inferred from the results they put forth. 14 

u., XVII. 53- 
2 Ibid., 54. 
8 Ibid., 55. 
4 Ibid., 5 7, XIV. 21. 
6 Ibid., XVII. 58. 

6 TRT ftpf %T ^ SJrT ^1 Ch. IV. 18- 
7 Ragb*. 9 1. 1 6. 
8 Ch. IV. Sec. L 130-131. 

*T: R&gbu.* VIII. 9. Kamandaka, quoted by Malhnatha has 


KSmandaka, quoted by Mallinatha has 

10 &&*., I. 28. 

11 Ibid., XVII. 59. 
"Ibid-, 61. 

18 Ibid., I. 22 (notes by M. R. Kale). 


Although powerful, his expedition should be specially directed against those who 
are in the reach of his power. 1 He should collect wealth in his treasury for the 
good of his people and not actuated by the motive of his avarice. 2 Employing 
the fourfold administration of government necessary to a king in its due order, 
as far as the eighteen ttrtbas, he should strive to obtain its fruit. 3 Although skil- 
ful in the art of fraudulent and diplomatic warfare (kutayuddba) he should always 
fight in the righteous way. 4 He should feel shy when rightly praised for his 
praiseworthy conduct. 5 Though dazzling when looked at his prowess and in- 
fluence, he should suppress all unworthy acts among his subjects in the manner 
of the sun dispelling darkness. 6 He should not send 7 him back who asks of him 
the fulfilment of some desire without fulfilling it. He should strive to add more 
to the state of prosperity of his people in which he found them while taking their 
charge from his predecessor, and he should thus bring about a state of plenty 
and affluence 8 , (bbuyasim vrddhim). The alien enemies are not so very difficult 
to win; formidable are the internal enemies, so should he endeavour to conquer 
the enemies at home fiist and then proceed against those abroad. 9 

Employing spies as eyes nothing should remain unseen to the monarch. 10 
Himself sleeping at -the scheduled time, he should learn all by employing spies, 
themselves ignorant of one another's business, among the enemies and friends. 11 
He should follow confidently the routine of duty for the day and night as scheduled 
in books on polity for kings. 12 He should consult and discuss the affairs of the 
State with his ministers every day and yet his vigilance should be so stern as not 
to allow the secret to be divulged. 13 "The king who does not listen", says the 
Sukraniti, "to the counsels of the ministers about things good and bad 
to him is a thief in the form of a ruler, an exploiter of the people's 
wealth." 14 He should build forts and properly garrison them so that they 
may successfully challenge the enemy and resist his advances. 15 During an 
Agvamedha sacrifice he has to utilize the fraudulent methods (pardbhisandhdna) 
to righteous ends. 16 He should associate with the good even if they are his 
enemies and avoid those who are bad even if they be his friends. 17 He 

1 Ibid., XVII. 56. 

2 Ibid., 60. 

3 Ibid., 68. 

Ibid., 69. 

Ibid., 73- 

Ibid., 74. 

7 Ibid., XI. 2, XVII. 72. 

8 Ibid., XVII. 41. 

9 Ibid., 45. 

10 Ibid., 48. 

11 Ibid., 51* 

18 Ibid., 50. 

14 Ch., II. 515-16.. 

15 Ragbu. 9 XVII. 51. 

16 Ibid., 76. 
" Jbid., I. 29, 


should rely on the experts in the statecraft 1 and should strive hard to 
consolidate all that he has already got. 2 ^ He should make the best efforts to 
run a benign government. 3 He should so wisely conduct himself in regard to 
his subjects that every individual should get an impression of being particularly 
endeared to him (the king). 4 He should not again take reins of administration 
which he has himself once renounced. 5 He should properly, in due time and 
place, apply the expedients of polity, as they bear fruit only when thus applied. 6 
He should always use a sweet language and in order to gain confidence his smile 
must precede his conversation. 7 He should employ his men in work with a 
patronizing skill. 8 He should himself be politically efficient 9 (nayajnah), and 
should not transgress the bounds of the established order, 10 as he must also keep 
in control his own youth, beauty and desire for glory, for they, even individually, 
cause corruption and arrogance. 11 Thus should a king act following the path 
pointed out by the treatises on polity 12 (sdstranirdistavartmand}^}\\^\ embodied 
the traditions of an ideal conduct for a ruler and could as well serve for the 
model of the poet's contemporary king. The royal panegyrist of the Junagadh 
Inscription of the Gupta age thinks in a strikingly similar trend. 

1 Ibid., IV. 10. 

2 ^^SFFTF^R^nT^rT ifT^rfPT^T Ibid., 14. 
8 Ibid., VIII. 7. 

4 Ibid., 8. 

5 Ibid., 13. 

6 Ibid., XII. 69. 

7 Ibid., XVII. 31. 

8 Ibid., 40. 

9 Ibin., XVIII. 25- 

10 Ibid., III. 27. 

11 Ibid., XVII. 43. 

32 Ibid., 77. Obviously the reference is to the Kautilya's Artba/astra> Dbarma-Jastra, 
Kamandaka's Ntttsara and to such other treatises on polity. 




A study of the works of Kalidasa gives one the unmistakable impression 
that sovereignty 1 resided in the king. 2 He was its original source (muldyatand). 
His authority was unquestioned (avydhatdjna) and all power emanated from him. 
In the details of administration, it is true, as will be shown later, it was the minis- 
ters who governed the State and settled the general policy of the Government 
but legally the king's dignity and power inherent in him by virtue of his 
being the master (svdmf) of the State went unchallenged. 3 The term avydhatdjnd^ 
which the poet uses, is a political one and it finds mention in the Sukraniti^ which 
says: "Superior to the very wealthy king is the monarch, who, though small 
in territory, has his commands unobstructed and is powerful. He can be- such 
with the qualification (mentioned above) 4 /' Here it may be pointed out that 
Kalidasa differs from Sukra inasmuch as the latter thinks (as is evident from his 
words "He can be such with the qualifications") that the unquestioned authority 
can be acquired through qualities whereas the former does not. Professor Benoy 
Kumar Sarkar, the learned translator of the Sukranlti^ while commenting on the 
above says: "But discipline and able management (as si^rT^TTfTT implies) and military 
efficiency are the two principal conditions of the importance of a kingdom." Here 
it may be submitted that the implication attributed to the phrase avydhatdjnd is 
not contained in it. Even where discipline and able management may be lacking 
the idea of unquestioned authority may exist, for it is fundamental to sovereignty. 
It implies *an undisputed command* and stands for the immutability of autho- 
rity with which the Hindu political theorists endow their king. It is acquired 
not by 'discipline and able management* or by 'military efficiency/ but by virtue 
of the king's inherent divinity which is implied by Manu's 'rnahati devatd hyesd 
nararupena tisthati? which Kalidasa endorses, and can exist in spite of indis- 
cipline, ill management and military inefficiency of a king. The king's body 
was representative of the divine forces 6 and he was an extraordinary being*. 
He did not acquire any help from the forces without and was self-sufficient as 
far as the inherent power was concerned. He had the divine right to his office. 
Whoever, for example the heir-apparent, wielded royal power apart from him, 

1 sft: Ragbu., III. 36- qifSpFsfr: IV. 14, 43- SRTTT: T 5 *> *9 XVIL 37- 

2 Ibid., III. 36. 


Ibid., XIX. 57. 
<Ch. I. 353-55. 

6 Ragfm., II. 75, III. n, XVI. 78. 

Ibid, I. 14, ?? , m. 14, 15, VI. 21, 38. 


actually wielded it as derived from, and delegated by him. 1 Whenever he re- 
nounced his office it was he arid he alone who determined his successor, and 
sovereignty thus devolved according to his will. 2 His office being hereditary, 
sovereignty flowed, as it were, from father to son. He was the, creator and 
cause of all time and tide. 3 He was expected to protect his people in return of 
his wages 4 which ordinarily would sound contractual, much akin to the theory 
of social contract, but nothing could be farther from such an idea. It is also 
true that laws did not flow from the sovereign and that he had to administer 
them only as he found them ready made and codified by sages like Manu 6 long 
before he took reins of his office and that he was expected to act as a skilful 
charioteer driving the car 6 of social and political affairs with reference to his 
people. Such a state of affairs, indeed, has the effect of making the king only 
a figurehead, punishing transgression against the established order> and it hard- 
ly leaves to him the chances of origination, yet it has to be admitted that his 
authority in the state was unassailable. 7 But in the day to day administration 
his arbitrariness was bound to come in conflict and be undermined by the ex- 
istence of a plurality of ministers and by several other forces which is a necessary 
outcome of the working of a highly organized secretariate, a thoroughly trained 
bureaucracy and a well-graded hierarchy of officials to which Kalidasa refers 
as existing as we shall see in due context. From a perusal of the poet's litera- 
ture we are left under no delusion as to the constitutional and legal position 
of his sovereign. He attributes to him divine qualities and epithets and thus 
renders him extraordinary and distinct from the people he governed. He is 
never the same as the common people 8 except in his education and the samskd- 
ras as a dvija. 

The Sovereign Power and Royal Dignity 

Sovereignty endowed the king with authority to rule. The king need 
not be advanced in age to wield power and exercise authority. Even a young 
king by virtue of his being the sovereign could command his position. 9 This 
sovereignty inherent in the young prince, like the strong smell of the rut in a 
young elephant overpowering other elephants, big or small, and like the deadly 
poison of a young snake keeping everyone off its body, enables him to rule 
over his people. 10 Even an unborn king, yet in the womb of his mother, ren- 

IX* I 

: ll Ibid., XVII. 30, cf. SRR- Ibid., III. 36. 

8 * TT^f 7JTT 3rf Ibid., IV. i, cfc III. 70, XVIII. 33 
8 TWr ^HW <*>K"m Vik.> p. 93, 

4 <WI^I^: Sak. t V. 4. 

5 *nFTT snfar: etc. Ragbu., XIV. 67, 1. 17, 19, IV. 7. 13. 
Ibid., I. 17. 

id., XIX. 57- 

*Ibid, I, 29 4H**UUMKii| Ibid., VI. 38, 

Ibid.,viIL 3 V irfqfcfr XVIH. 42, Vik. 9 V. 18, 


dered (by his association and touch) his mother, the queen, one of unquestioned 
authority (aiydbatajna*) and endowed her person with much sanctity. She 
could be even anointed as a sovereign in virtue of her association with the 
potential king in her womb. 2 

The king moved about in great state. 3 When he entered the city and pro- 
ceeded on an elephant through the thoroughfares of his capital, he was accom- 
panied with music and beat of drums. 4 The city and its roads were decorated 
wifh banners and artificial arches to receive him. 5 When he entered his capi- 
tal men ran on both sides hailing him with the words 'Victory to the King 1 
Here comes he !' 6 This act is technically termed as shouting the 'aloka&bda, 7 ' 
the set formula of phrases which one must utter when approaching the king. 
The dlokasabda thus meant the panegyrical ovation of the attendants which they 
gave in order to cry the way when the king moved about. While the king pro- 
ceeded on the highways of the capital, damsels and elderly women in coverture 
threw Idjd* or fried rice on him thus expressing their good wishes for him. In 
the meantime songs of glory of his royal house were sung 9 and fly-whisks were 
waved over him, 10 as a sign of regalia. The royal visit was marked by some 
gracious act 11 on the part of the^sovereign for the good of his subjects. When- 
ever he visited a place it was inspected 12 beforehand by his officials. When- 
ever he wanted his words to be conveyed to somebody not present before him, 
he commanded the attendant with affected words, 'speak to (so and so) with my 
words' I 13 purporting that the words of the king were infallible in their desired 
purpose and their propriety could not be questioned. The sovereign could 
be approached only opportunely. 14 

The imperial ruler was a paramount Sovereign. c One umbrella* and one 
king was the idea 15 . He, according to the poet, ruled 'the entire world under one 
umbrella/ 36 And the sovereign who could achieve this ideal drove 'a chariot of 
unchecked course (apratirathaK) up to the end of directions/ 17 The phrase 
apratirathahot the Allahabad Pillar Inscription 18 of Samudia Gupta, the conquer- 

/y., XIX. 57- 
2 Ibid. 
a Ibid., IV. 15,30,39, XVII. 37. 

* R/#., II. i. 

Ibid., Rqgfw., II. 74, XL 5, XV. 38. 

6 snr^ sprg ^r $sk.> p. 156. 

7 &gte., II. 9. 

8 *{NK<HN: Ibid -> H. 10, IV. 27. 

9 zrar: ^*faT*TFT Ibid., II. 12. 

10 Ibid, XVIH.43. 

11 Ibid., H. 14. 

12 Sk., P- I 8 

18 Ha-'HTq; Ibid., p. 156. 

14 JMmM v ftW TTv5TR: Ibid., p. 185. 

i* RJagfa., H. 47, V. 23, VIIL 4; F/*., IIL 19. 

i* Raghu-9 II. 47. 

" ibid., f^frsrRrT*r in. 4; Sat., vn. 33, p. 258. 

* 8 Mathura Stone Inscription of Candra Gupta II, Bilsad Stone Pillar Inscription of 


or of the Hindu world of his times, finds its repetition in the phrase apratira- 
thab 1 and its echo in similar phrases digantavifrdntarathab\ dndkarathavartmandnfi 
w\&jayativasudhdmapratirathah^) of Kalidasa. A few of these can even be equated 
with the legends on the coins of the Imperial Guptas 5 . 

Kalidasa speaks ideally about the boundaries of an imperial sovereign's 
empire. He advocates natural boundaries and he is not fatigued by des- 
cribing in unequivocal terms the glories of such a sovereign ruling a territory 
Extending up to the seas 6 / A Cakravrti governed his whole empire 'extending 
up to the seas like a single city with no rival power to share his authority in the 
administration of the entire earth 7 .' This allusion stands also as a parallel to 
identical phraseology in the Allahabad Pillar Inscription 8 of Samudra Gupta and 
in the Mandasor Stone Inscription 9 of Kumara Gupta and Bandhuvarma. The 
governance of the empire like a single city by one king also conveys the idea of a 
single-whole kingship as against the idea of a federation and militates against 
the general evidence furnished on the point by the w6rks of the poet. 

Sovereign Terms 

We may also consider a few terms in this connection. They are anka lQ , 
Jdsana 11 , JdsandriJka 12 , ndmamudra^ zndghosand u . Anka commonly means lap, the 
reach of arms, domains, an impression of a seal. Ankdgata (sattva) vrttp&, used 
by Kalidasa, may indirectly refer to one's sovereign rights within one's domain. 
Anka means, as said above, an impression, a sign. It was the seal of the Govern- 
ment The Raghuvatifa at one place reads thus: 'ruling without oppression 

Kumara Gupta, Bihar Stone Pillar Inscription of Skanda Gupta, etc. cf. 
of the Eran Stone Inscription of Samudra Gupta, verse 4. 

1 ?/., VII. 33. p. 258. 

*Kaghu., II. 47- 

3 Ibid., I. 5. ' 

6 Cf. Samudra Gupta's gold coins (Standard type); SamaraSatavitatavijayo Jitaripura 
djtto divam jayati\ ibid., (AsVamedha type): Rdjadhirajah prthivmjitvd divam jay aty a hrtavajunedbafa 
Candra Gupta's gold coins (Chattra type): Ksittmavajitya sucaritair divam jayati Vikramddityah\ 
Divam jayati of the coins is the same as anharathavartmanam of Kalidasa. 

6 Sak.. II. 15, III. i 7 :R4gfo.,L i $, XVI. i, XVIIL 4, 23. 


q It 
in Bilsad Stone. Pillar Inscription. Bihar St. Ins. 2nd. 

part. Bhitari Stone. Pillar Inscription. 



Cf. also ^^faMHtrcrf ^<iTS4rl^U\ of the Junagadh Rock Ins. of Skanda Gupta, verse 3. 
"R^Jk.IL 38. 
11 Ibid., XVIL 79; Sa&, pp. 185-220. 

"E^e^, xvm. 29. 

l *Sa%.,p. 205; Ate/., p. 87. 
VI. 23. 

VI ^ 109 

over the earth which bore the mark of his command/ 1 etc. We find a similar 
phrase in garutmadanka used in the Allahabad Pillar Inscription of Samudra 
Gupta in the sense of a seal engraved with the form of a Garuda or eagle. It 
may be said likewise that orders of the emperor including those renewing the 
titles to govern under the paramount sovereign were imprinted officially with 
the mark of an imperial seal, an ankv, as it was called. Adsana means an order, 
an edict. This term occurs in a very important context of the Vikramorvati 
in which the emperor remarks that he does not think himself so much blessed 
with the attainment of supreme sovereignty marked by an exclusive 
royal umbiella, and by his edicts being coloured by the crest jewels of feuda- 
tory chiefs. 2 This passage makes it clear that the emperor used to issue fdsanas 
or 'written orders' or edicts of administration which were proclaimed about 
in the empire. This passage is further corroborated by another occurring in 
the Sdkuntala where an actual proclamation (/'/;' ghusyatdm} has been made. 3 A 
supreme ruler or emperor had several petty feudal princes the sdmantamauli 
of the passage under his sway. The latter paid the former tributes worthy 
of his state, and received in return legal sanctions from him to which they 
would show their respect by lifting them to their crowned heads. The rays 
issuing from their diadems fell upon the orders (sdsanas) and brightened them. 
This may be corroborated from other references in literature and inscriptions. 
These Sdsanas, as suggested above, might have been official renewals of the 
title of the feudal lords to govern their realms. The possessions of the feuda- 
tories became those of their overlord, the emperor, by conquest, but since they 
were reinstated in their kingdom their title might be taken to have been derived 
from the authority, will and pleasure of the suzerain. Such practice, it may 
be noted, actually obtained in the administrative system of the Imperial Gup- 

While dealing with the Sdsanas Kautilya says: "(Teachers) say that (the 
word) sdsana, command, (is applicable only to) royal writs (sdsana)"* Like 
Kautilya, Sukra also has referred to the Sdsanas. He is even more prolific in 
this regard and his treatise, the Sukramti, draws out a long list of the kinds of 
the writs of royal command. 6 According to him "A Sdsana-patra or a docu- 
ment of public nbtice and regulations for the people is that which contains the 
king's own signature and date and begins in the following way: "Hear ye 
all, or Notice is hereby given that, etc. such and such things must be done by 
you, etc/' 6 He makes mention of another interesting document, that of an 
djUa-patra or document of order, which he explains as 'one by which functions 
are entrusted to tributary chiefs, officers or governors of districts/ 7 We have 
to distinguish here between the two kinds of Sdsanas mentioned by Kalidasa. 

M XVIII. 29. 
ffl. 19, 
., VI. 23. 

4 Arthatestra, Book II, Ch. i<x 
5 Ch. H. 
9 Ibid., 607-608. 
7 Ibid., 603-604. 


There was the ordinary Sdsana writ of command, referred to below, and there 
were those Sdsanas which were addressed by the king to his officials. The lat- 
ter wete the ajtid-patras of the Sukramti. It is one like these which has been 
alluded to in the Abbijndna Sdkttntala 1 in the phrase patrahasto rdjaSdsanam. The 
Sukrariiti lays much stress on the use of written documents as orders of the king. 
It enjoins: "The officer or servant is not to do anything without the king's 
written order. Nor should the king command anything great or small with- 
out written order. 2 " It becomes even more insistent on the use of written order: 
"Both the king who commands without writing and the officer who does any- 
thing without written orders are thieves. 3 " It even declares: "The written 
document with the king's seal is the real king. The king is not a king*" Thus 
jdsana or rdjafdsancP wa$ the royal writ containing the order. 6 The fdsanas' 
could never be questioned as they were issued by the sovereign authority 
and a king whose Jdsana could never be challenged but was always respected 
has been referred to by Kalidasa as mahaniyasdsanah. 1 There were those 
messengers who carried to and fro these sdsanas as is evident from the phrase 
{dsanahdrind* Sdsandnka, as shown above, was the seal of the Government 
which might have been utilized in imprinting an edict. of the Government. 

Mudrd, again, was a sign and a seal and ndmamudrd a seal bearing a 
name. Ghosand was the proclamation of an order or information to the public 
on the part of the administration. We read in the Sdkuntala Dusyanta order- 
ing a certain proclamation to be made. 9 It may be remembered that ASoka, 
the great Buddhist Emperor, had his edicts proclaimed to his people by means 

of rock and pillar inscriptions throughout his empire. 

Types of States 

From the works of Kalidasa several names of States can be gathered which 
in treatises of polity like the Arthasdstra and the Kdmandaktya Nttisdra 
have been dealt with as technical political terms referring to types of States. 
They are the following: Rajya, 10 Maharajya, Adhirajya 11 , Dvairajya, 12 Samrajya, 13 
and the Sarvabhauma or the Cakravarti 14 system. But it is evident that with 
the single exception of the term Dvairajya Kalidasa does not use them as dis- 
tinct types of sovereign States. He actually confuses, may be due to poeti- 

*p. 1 86. 

*Ch. II. 582-83. 

8 Ibid., 585-86. 

Ibid., 587. 
&&, p. 186. 

6 iiKMiPfat *nm R^^., XVIL 79. 

Ibid., ni. 69. 
Ibid., III. 68. 

10 &aebu.> H. 50, IV. i, XIV. 85, etc. 

Ibid., XVH: 30. ^ 

12 cf^T W^fo&^N^H^<[*Mfa^ I Ma/. 9 p. 100. 

* 8 &#**., II. 5, IV, 5, 88- 

14 Kx. 9 VII. 52, $dk. 9 1. u, pp. 21, 179. 242, 261. 


cal aftd metrical exigencies, their, political significance and even at times uses 
many of these terms as synonyms to indicate the same type of State. Thus 
it is not possible to accept these phrases a? technically used. A reference, how- 
ever, may be made 'to the types of Dvairdjya, Sdmrdjya, and Sdrvabhauma or the 
Cakravartl types. 

Dvairdjya was a kingdom divided in two parts and controlled by two kings. 
This type was actually composed of two parts two half-kingdoms (ardhardjyti)^ 
Dvairdjya, as established by Agnimitra, was a kingdom divided between two 
brother-kings and was evidently under the influence 2 of a more important power. 
The Mdlavikdgnimitra formulates almost a definition of Jt: "The two kings 
possessing royalty divided (equally) between them, and causing no disturbance 
owing to mutual restraint, will abide by your command, as the two horses bear 
mg the yoke (of a chariot, the weight of which is) equally divided, and harm- 
less, being mutually restrained, follow the will of the charioteer. 3 " Thus ob- 
viously this Dvairdjya was not a type of sovereign Stat and was subject to the 
restraint and authority exercised by a suzerain power. It may be noted that 
the Arthasdstra has discussed the constitution called Dvairdjya in connection 
with the Vairdjya. Dr. Jayaswal observes: "He (Kautilya) characterises the 
Dvairdjya^ 'the rule of two/ as a constitution of rivalry and mutual conflict lead- 
ing to final destruction. 4 It should be noticed that the Achdranga Sutra also 
refers to this constitution and treats it 9s distinct from the Gana Government. 
This 'rule of two' was neither a monarchy nor an aristocracy. It is a cons- 
titution peculiar to the history of India. Historical instances of this consti- 
tution are known to our literature and inscriptions. Avanti in some period 
of Hindu history was under this constitution, for the Mahdbhdrata relates that 
Avanti was under Vmda and Anuvinda, two kings ruling jointly. 5 ---- In 
the 6th and yth centuries of the Christian era, Nepal was under such a cons- 
titution. Simultaneous inscriptions of the kings of the Lichchhavi family and 
the Thakun family are found at Kathamandu. 6 These ar.e orders issued from 
two places in the same capital, and the dates prove that the two dynasties were 
ruling simultaneously ____ Prima facie such a constitution is unthinkable and 
unworkable. Its working in India constitutes a unique constitutional experi- 
ment and success. The constitution in Nepal lasted for a long time. 7 " It 
must be, however, remembered that the Dvairdjya of the Mdlavikdgnimitra does 
not seem to refer to a sort of joint rule and responsibility. It appears to have 
been a kingdom divided in two, each of which was held by a king. 

1 Mai., p. i oo. 
a Ibid. 

p. 323. 

6 Sabbfyarva, Ch. 31; Ud. p. 165, etc. 

6 Fleet, Gupta Inscriptions* App. IV. 

7 Hindu Polity Part II, pp. 96-97. It may be pointed here, however, that Dr. Jayaswal's 
assertion that such a constitution has been peculiar to India and that it is 'unthinkable and 
unworkable* can be easily challenged, for we know that Rome had two Magistrates with un- 
divided equal powers and the Government functioned smoothly. 


Sawrajya, as referred to by the poet, was evidently a vast empire com- 
posed of its federated units of feudal states governed independently by their 
respective rulers so far as their internal administration was concerned. The 
authority to govern their respective states, however, was renewed by the Samrat, 
to the Samantas, as they were technically called. 

The conduct of the vassal chiefs at an imperial court has already been re- 
ferred to. Sdrvabhauma or the Cakravarti state was again an imperial system 
like the Samrajya in which the authority of one emperor was recognized. But 
what Kalidasa describes as a Sdrvabhauma monarchy is, in fact, a combination 
or perhaps a compromise between the technical Adhirdjya type of a federal 
character and the Sdrvabhauma a unified imperialism under one king. Unless 
we conclude in this manner we shall be confronted with a confused descrip- 
tion establishing nothing since the poet mentions several kings in the train of 
% Cakravarti sovereign ruling under one umbralla. 1 

A paramount sovereign, an emperor, Samrat 2 or Cakravarti? as he was 
sometimes called, moved in great state followed by his vassals and feudatory 
chiefs. 4 Raghu's feet are said to have become yellow at the fingers on account 
of the particles of honey and the pollen dropped down from the garlands 
of kings. 6 A striking parallel of this picture is presented by the Kahaum 
Stone Pillar Inscription where it is said that a strong wind was caused 
to be blown by hundreds of feudatories of Skanda Gupta bowing their heads 
to the great Gupta Emperor in the foreground of his court. 6 This implies 
that a vast number of kings prostrated themselves at the feet of their paramount 
sovereign at the time of their appearance or leave-taking. 7 Naturally the emperor 
added to his own the sovereignty (jW) of those monarchs whose territory he 
conquered but whom he reinstated in their kingly office. He took away their 
sovereignty v but not their possessions 8 . Feudal chiefs accepted his behests, 
committed on paper, with a low bow of their heads the umbrellas of which were 
kept at a distance. 9 ^ Legally they could not keep umbrellas 10 as the paramount 
sovereign was a one-umbrella emperor 11 (ekdtapatra) and held his authority 
unshared 12 by any other power in his domain. It was during the marches of this 
all-powerful sovereign that 'the dust raised by the vanguard of horses, effected 

t., IV. 87, IX. 13, XVII. 28. 
^ Ibid,, II. 5, IV. 5,88. 

8 Ka., VII. 52; Sak. y I. 11, pp. 21, 179, 242, 261. 
4 Raghu., IV. 87, VI. 33,1X^13, 14, XIII. 66, XVII. 28; Vik. 9 III 19. 
^ t*t 1 1^ ^l fa fa vi *H **i i Hi <?i ^fl *\ <*> <x r s <^f *u^ *r &<zg0#-j IV. 88. 

V. i. 

1 WHHUirdfa:-~l^- IV. 8*. 

8 far STfTC ? g tfafH Ibid^IV. 43- 

9 $<m<tfrJd^4w<WI*li *ntiiiftVrn Ragh. 9 XVIL, 79. 
10 Ibid,, IV. 8j,XVH. 79. 

ll ^RTT9f Wr: SHJc^ Ibid., II. 47, XVIIL 4; Vik. y III. 19. 
18 ^tii4|^^HI<|^ W ^8^ I- 3^- *HfrHm: V, 23, 


the disappearance of the shooting rays of the crest jewels of the tributary 
princes' who followed him in his train. 1 He was the very hump (nrpatikakuda}* 
as it were, of the bull whose component limbs were made up by the feudal chiefs 
and was technically termed as the centrp or nucleus of the circle of kings (ndbbi 
nrpamandalasyaf who were the wmantamauh of the text, 4 The attendance of the 
feudatory chiefs at the supreme imperial court was a marked feature of the times 
of Kalidasa for it has been frequently 5 noticed by him in his works. This was 
also a noted feature of the courts of the Imperial Guptas as is evident from their 
epigraphical records, particularly instanced in the Allahabad Pillar Inscription 
of Samudra Gupta and the Kahaum Stone Pillar Inscription of Skanda Gupta. 
These feudatories attended the imperial court on important occasions like con- 
quests or sacrifices, or they may have even stayed there permanently like the 
Rajas of the Moghal court of later times vying with one another for the 
imperial offices and the pleasure of the emperor. 6 

In order to give an ampler evjdencc it is opportune to describe here the 
vassal chiefs at a little length. The following is a description given by the poet 
of a universal sovereign and his attending crowd of tnbutory chieftains. 

The Vassal chiefs experienced both rise and set at the hands of the uni- 
versal sovereign for he had a kind heart to those who did not violate his com- 
mands, but to his defiants he had a heart made of steel. 7 The chiefs by hun- 
dreds touched (him of undaunted valour on) his feet with rays proceeding from 
the diamonds m their crowns brightened up by the red lustre of his toe-nails. 8 
The emperor returned from the shores of the great ocean to his capital having 
taken compassion on the w.ves of his enemies, who were then destitute of hair 
decorations and who had requested their ministers to join the hands of their 
infant sons before him as a token of their supplication. 9 Although attained to 
the pos tions of the chief of the circle of twelve kings, that universal sovereign 
whose personal splendour was equal to that of fire and the moon and by the side 
of whose white umbrella, no other (white) umbrella could be raised on the 
earth, was ever vigilant thinking that the dignity of a monarch is always to 
conquer what still remains unconquered. 10 

The paramount sovereign sat under a golden canopy and was attended 
by chauri-bearers and bards, and tradesmen pouted wealth through commerce 
in his empire. 11 He was witnessed in his supreme sovereignty marked by their 

1 Ibid., VI. 33. 

2 Ibid., 70, III. 70. 

3 Ibid., IX, 1 5, XVIII. 20. 

* Vik.> III. 19. 

*Ragbu., IV. 87, VI. 33, IX. 13, 14, XIII. 66, XVII. 28; Vtk. 9 III. 19. 

6 qqNfrkuiyr sren^nar &*,** IV * 88 - 
'Ibid., IX. 9. 
Ibid., 10. 

Ibid., 14. 

10 Ibid., IX. 15. 



being only one royal umbrella, and by his edicts (sasananka) being coloured 
by the crest jewels of feudatory chiefs (sdmantamauUmaniranjitd)}- The sdmantas 
(sdmanta, lit. a border prince, a petty chieftain ruling over a few villages kati- 
payagrSmapatiK) ruled under the paramount sovereign. The Sukraniti defines 
a Samanta as one *in whose kingdom without oppressing the subjects, an an- 
nual revenue from one lakh up to three lakh Karsas is regularly realised. 2 ' It 
further adds that even royal servants could be 'appointed equal with Samantas. 3 ' 

The feudal possessions formed units of the imperial sovereign's empire 
which seems to have been a feudo-federal structure. And although Kalidasa 
speaks of one empire under a single emperor, the existence of a unitary type 
of State can obviously be doubted. In fact, the units were free in their 
internal administration and all that was required of the feudal lords was to ac- 
knowledge the suzerainty of the paramount power, to pay tributes to the sover- 
eign and to get the title to rule renewed from time to time. They held their 
fiefs with his authority and during his pleasure. The vassals approached their 
suzerain to get the titles to their respective lands renewed. This is made very 
clear by the illustrative picture preserved in the Allahabad Pillar Inscription 
of Samudra Gupta where his feudatories are said to have come for 'doing 
obeisance and obeying commands, 4 * and for getting the title to the enjoyment 
of their respective lands renewed with the Imperial Gupta seal bearing the stamp 
of the eagle (garuda)? 

Having conquered all, the paramount sovereign performed the Visvajifi 
sacrifice, the best of all sacrifices and worthy to be performed only by a 
universal sovereign. It was a kind of sacrifice in which the sacrificer had to 
give away as daksind (guerdon) all his wealth to the officiating priests. 

A universal sovereign was supposed to bear the linear marks of flags, thun- 
derbolts and umbrellas on the palms cf his hand and the soles of his feef . 7 

Digpijaya and the ASvamedha Sacrifice 

An ambitious king proceeded soon after his succession to the throne on 
a world-conquest (digvijaydf after the accomplishment of which alone the ASva- 
medha or Rajasuya sacrifice could be performed and the highest wish of an 
Indian monarch reglized. This conquest was mostly accomplished in one of the 

^ It Vtk'* IV. 13. 

i ibid., in, 19. 

a Ch., I. 365-67. 

ibid., 377-78. 

4 *q4<KHIWMi*WlHHi*H o &&*., XVII. 79; Vik.> III. 19. 

Cf also the ist verse of the 

Kahaum Stone Pillar Inscription of Skanda Gupta. 
Raglx., IV. 86. V, i. 

7 % ^iUHBifii^WM^fii^-Jbid., IV., 88, VL 18. 
Ibid., IV. 26. 


two ways. Either the king waited at home for the return of the victorious 
heir-apparent, the appointed guard of the wandering horse let loose for the 
putposc of the ASvamedha, as in the case of Pusyamitra Sunga of the 
Mdlavikdgnimitra^ or he himself made the conquest in the manner of Raghu 
leading^ his armies in person from province to province and country to country. 2 
Time of Conquest / 

. The best time for conquest 3 * was the autumn season when the rains had 
passed off and the weak princes had become uneasy dreading every moment an 
expedition of conquest. 4 The autumn holds out before the conqueror peculiar 
facilities for carrying on a campaign and thus actuates him to undertake an 
expedition. The beasts of burden (the bulls especially) are in full spirits, the war 
elephants in their ruttish condition are eminently fitted for fighting, the rivers 
become fordable and the roads being dried up afford easy passage to the 
conqueror's troops in autumn. 5 Kautilya seems to have been the authority that 
Kalidass has followed in this respect. The ArthaSdstra gives a full description 
of the particular time in respect of particular enemies. It says that the 
conqueror should march during the month of Caitra (March), if he means to 
destroy the enemy's autumnal crops and vernal handfuls. 6 

The March 

Having formed a just estimate of military power, circumstances, time and 
others of his own as well as of his enemy, the conqueror will make an inva- 
sion on him if he thinks himself more powerful than he; otherwise he will re- 
main silent. 7 In case the king determined on a conquest he first made arrange- 
ments to protect and garrison the metropolis (mula) and the frontier (pratyanta) 
fortresses 8 and reassured himself of all the six kinds of support 9 before he left 
his kingdom. While making arrangements for protecting the metropolis and 
the frontier fortresses, the king also took adequate measures to safeguard his 
rear 10 (Sudhapdrsni). It may be noted that this idea of Kalidasa is fully borne 
out by the evidence of the Arthatdstra which also warns a conqueror to march 
against an enemy after making provisions for the defence of his rear from the 
enemies lying behind. 11 The conqueror then left his capital with a grand send- 
off 12 given by the ladies of the capital who threw parched rice on him. The day 
before the start for battle the king fasted and lay down with weapons in his 

*p. 88. 

2 &4gte., IV. 

3 Ibid., 26. 

4 Ibid., 21. 

6 znrro ^t^rmr^T cf 3R%: *m srer ibid,, iv. 24, 22, 2$. 

6 Book. IX. Ch. I. 
'JLgfe, XVII. 59. 

8 'IklJjHMc+M: Ib"*., IV. 26. 

9 qfflrsi'Ef ^^ Ibid., cf jAmarflkofa: 

10 TOTrfMKqifad: *<J*ghu., IV. 26. 
" Bk. VII. Ch. 16. 

., IV. 27. 


chariot. 1 We have an identical instruction given to the conqueror by Kautilya 
in the ArthaSastra? 

In course of the conquest the conqueror went on subjugating countries 3 
and raising pillars of victory. 4 He cleared the forests 5 0nd bridged the rivers 
with elephants. 6 Kalidasa gives a graphic picture of such a march which may 
be quoted below: That army looking for a way through the valleys of the 
slopes of the Vindhya mountain, being divided into many squadrons, made 
the mouths of the caves full of echoes like the roaring Rcva. The trumpet 
sound of the army mingled with the noise of the marches. 7 He uprooted his 
resisters vehemently, 8 captured, released 9 and reinstated those others who sub- 
mitted to his prowess in the manner of a righteous conqueror. The frightened 
enemies fled to the protection of a righteous neutral lord 10 of imperial power. 
The passage of the conqueror through the countries of his enemies was 
thorough and he marched through them subduing kings and uprooting those 
that had the daring to defy him. 11 The princes, thus defeated, dethroned and 
reinstated, were struck by the magnanimity of the victor and overcome by 
gratitude, came to him and prostrating themselves before him, offered him 
presents. 12 The march of the army Vas marked by stages where it stopped in 
tents where games and othet merriments were organized. 13 This may strike one 
as the march of an ancient Greek army. The countries refeircd to by Kalidasa 
as conquered and proposed to be conquered are mainly those that lie on the 
border and form the natural boundaries of India. 14 

Kalidasa enthusiastically praises the conquests of a righteous 15 (dharmarijayf) 
conqueror. He was one who was satisfied with mere obedience and took 
away the sovereignty of the conquered enemy but not his land. 16 The 
poet seems to refer in this dharmavijayt conqueror the just or righteous type 

Ubid., V. 2*. 
2 Bk. X. Ch. 3. 
/to., IV. 

Ibid., 36, spffifcfltiT Ibid., XV. 103. 

SFR ibid., iv. 31. 

fa: Ibid., 38, Tr^sRm Ibid., XVI. 33. 
Ubid., XVI. 31-32. 
8 3^Trr Ibid., IV. 33. SFraTtjjT STOTj 35, 3^TO rTT?TT 3 6 - 
9 ^ff^fcHT^q- Ibid, 44 tft^id STfa^fWi 37- 

10 Ibid., xiii. 7. triffaT *im*n*m^. 

* Ibid., IV. 35. 

12 SlMHHHlfum Ibid., IV. 79, 83. 

13 <Mto*wUfad>HKI' . . . frSTTTOSqT I bid -> v - 4i, also cf. ^rprt^ ibid., VII. 2. 

14 Countries lying by the eastern seas, ibid., IV. 32, 34, Bengal, 36, 34, Kalinga, 40, Malaya- 
upatyaki, 46, Pindyas, 49, TSmraparni, 50, Malayadardura, 5 1, Apararta, 5 3, Kerala, j 4, Trikuta, 
59, PSrasIkas, 60, North, 66, Vanku, 67, Hunas 68, Kambojas, 69, Gaurlgurum, Sailam, 71, 
Kiratas, 76, Mountaineers, 77, Utsavasahketas, 78, Lauhitya, 81, Pragjyorisa, 81, Kama- 
rupa, 83. 

16 r: K*<6**., IV, 43. 

16 Wf 4j<tMI*l4-q 3fTT *T %f^ft*T Ibid. 


of the three types of invaders mentioned by Kautilya in his Artha$dstra> the 

rest two being the demonlike and :he greedy. 1 


The performance of the Asvamedha sacrifice was another way in which 
a world conquest was attempted. Kalidasa has made a frequent mention of 
this sacrifice. The description given in* the Mdlavikdgnimitra is vivid. Dowson 2 
gives the following incidents of the preliminaries of a sacrifice. 

"A horse of a particular colour was consecrated by the performance of 
certain ceremonies, and was then let loose to wander for a year. The king, 
or his representative followed the horse with an army, and when the animal 
entered a foreign country the ruler of that country was bound either to fight 
or to submit. If the liberator of the horse succeeded in obtaining or enforcing 
the submission of all the countries over which it passed, he returned in triumph 
with all the vanquished rajas in his train; but if he failed, he was disgraced, and 
his pretensions ridiculed. After his successful return a great festival was held, 
at which the horse was sacrificed/' 

The extract from the letter of Pusyamitra, quoted below, gives an idea as 
to how the horse was escorted during his wanderings abroad: 

"The horse which was let loose by me to go about unobstructed conse- 
crated for the Raja (horse) sacrifice, having appointed Vasumitra, surrounded 
by 'a hundred princes, its guardian, and which was to return after one year, 
was seized while wandering on the southern bank of the Sindhu by a cavalry 
squadron of the Yavams. There ensued a fierce fight between the two armies. 
Then Vasumitra, the mighty archer, having defeated the enemies, rescued the 
noble horse that was being forcibly led away. 

I, then, whose horse has been brought back by my grandson, will offer 
the sacrifice now, like Sagara who had his horse brought back by Amfumat. 
You should therefore come without delay, to witness the sacrifice with my 
daughters-in-law and with a mind free from anger. 3 " 

The frequency 4 of references in Kalidasa to horse sacrifice may point out 
to its prevalence during his time which was indeed one of Brahmanical glory 
and renaissance. By it the performer achieved paramountcy over other prin- 
ces. The entire extent of land which was wandered over by the unbiidled 5 
horse came under the sway of its liberator if it came back to its destination and 
the kings who were the masters of that extent of land became his vassals. 

The escorting of the sacrificial horse was by no means a mean affeir. The 
charge 6f the wandering horse was a most responsible one and was entrusted 
only to very responsible officials of state, generally to royal kinsmen. The 
appointment as the guardian of a horse consecrated *br sacrifice was deemed a 
great honour which may be inferred from the zeal with which the parents of 

CH. i. 

2 Classical Dictionary* S. V. ASvamedha. 

3 AfJ/., V.p. 102. 

4 R^ete., in. 38, 39, VI. 61, XV. 58, MM., pp. 88, 102. 

5 ft?I*N*'Mft M*t P I02 > 5<'WrU*d*H 4 l*f I^g4., III. 39. 


Vasumitra hailed the news of their son escorting the horse back home. 1 Dha- 
rini, the mother of Vasumitra, welcomes the information with her thought- 
fur and proud observation: "To a responsible post, indeed, (adhikwe khalu) 
has my son been appointed by the General. 2 " As a result of the happy news 
Agnimitra announces liberty 8 fo all the prisoners of the realm, and the Pra- 
tlhar! is loaded with valuable presents 4 , by the ladies of the harem whom she 
goes to inform of the victories of Vasumitra. Such was the zeal of the king 
and such the honour and much coveted title, for it was mostly on the personal 
valour of the guardian of the horse that the fame and glory of the sacrificer 
depended 1 The Yuvaraja, who guarded the horse, was accompanied, besides 
his army, with the sons of his father's vassal kings 5 and with those of his minis- 
ter. 6 

It has been said thflt such was the importance of this sacrifice that God 
ISvara Himself presided over the body of the sacrificer, who had undergone 
the initiative ceremony of the sacrifice, with his speech restrained, holding the 
antelope hide and a staff, wearing a waist-band of KxJa grass and furnished with 
the horn of a deer, and he made it shine with matchless splendour, 7 The 
nature of the Avamedha which has been referred to by Kalidasa was absolutely 
political. No religious consequence or merit was expected to follow from it 
at least in this case. It was used by Pusyamitra as a means to digvijaya. 

At the close of the sacrifice, the sacrificer, who was well disposed (like a 
friend, towards his ministers) permitted the Ksatriya princes, the vassal kings 
who had come to attend the sacrifice, to return to their capital, whose sense 
of grief on their defeat had been mitigated by the great honours, conferred on 
them by him, and the ladies of whose harem were anxiously waiting for them 
owing to long separation. 8 

After a successful horse sacrifice the extent of the empire knew no bounds. 
It is to such empires that Kalidasa refers so rhetorically in his eloquent phrases, 
ekdtapatram jagatah prabhutvam? dsamudraksittidndm veldvapravalaydm parikhi- 
krtasdgardm^- ananyasdsandmurvim}* dndkarathavartmandm^ dtgantavifrdntarathah^ 
jayati vasudhdmapratirathah?* and the like. References discussed above are in 
several cases traditional. Kalidasa has not been able, as he could not be, while 

1 M?/., pp. 102-4. 

2 $rfa^ it <TT3f: *HIHfcHI frqw: Ibid., p. 104, edited by M. R. Kale. 

. 103. 

4 T^l^MAlfHfavM MP<dWIW: <T<RmR< u IMi H^uRrH tf^TT Ibid., p. 104. 
6 Raglw., Ill, 38; Mal.> p. 102. * 

6 Ragbtt., III. 28. 

7 Ibid., IX. 17. 

8 Ibid., IV. 87. 
Ibid, II. 47. 

10 Ibid., I. 5- 

11 Ibid., 30. 
38 Ibid. 

18 Ibid., I. T- 
14 Ibid., III. 4. 
., VH. }j, 


describing conventional history, to extricate himself from the traditional 
incidents of polity, but wherever his description has touched the ground of 
contemporary times, as it was bound to be, parallels have been brought in to 
reflect his own age. 



The king WPS assisted in his work of administration by a 'Council of 
Ministers' technically called Amatya Parisat? or Mantri-Parisat* This Council 
of Ministers was in-fact a very ancient body. They had evolved from the Vedic 
Rdjakrts, king-makers, who later appeared as Ratnins. 

Council of Ministers 

The ArthafdstrcP refers to this Council of Ministers at length and the 
Sukramti* also seems to allude to such a Council in its enumeration of eight 
ministers and in giving the nature of their function. The Jdtakas* call the 
Council of Ministers Parisd. The Mabavastu* and the edicts of Asoka 7 also 
know it by the same name. The poet associates this Council of Ministers with 
l he earlier royalties, but this feature was equally tiuc of his own age. 

King and Ministers 

Kalidasa dwells upon the importance of the ministers. The entire admi- 
nistrative work was carried on by them. When absent from the kingdom, 
the king left the administration in the hands of the ministers. 8 The king at 
one place 9 informs his Minister thus: "Let your intelligence alone protect 
the subjects for a time." Sometimes a royal voluptuary conducted the regal 
affairs indispensable to the king for some years in person, and then having con- 
signed them to the care of his ministers, had his prime solely devoted to the 
servire of young women. 10 Thus the two powers that governed a kingdom 
were the king's hand (dhanuK) and the ministers' head. When the former 
was engaged (lyapftaw) elsewhere the latter alone (kevala) remained to carry on 
the work of administration at home. 11 The king has been called by the 
poet sacivasakha /& 12 implying that he and his ministers always acted in perfect 

1 Mat., p. ioo. 

2 Ibid., p. 101. 

3 Bk., I. Ch. XV. 
4 Ch. II. 71-72. 

5 Vol. VI. pp. 405, 431. 

6 Vol., II. pp. 419, 442. 

7 Rocks edicts III and VI. 

34, ^FSlffcRT^ IX * 6 9, XIX. 4; 
VI. 32; spr^ $ir^*^< Vik., p. 87. 

9 rVf (a t }>q<rn niqcHPv-iM^ ^HTf: Sak^VI. 32. 

10 R^g^., XIX. 4. 

11 ^-1., VI. 32. 

12 *#&., IV. 87, 


accord. He daily consulted his ministers and discussed with them the affairs 
of the government 1 but his confidence in them was so well placed that the 
secrecy of the talk was never divulged. 2 The king has been enjoined by all 
the writers on Hindu polity to act always with the advice of his ministers. 
Manu 3 , Yajfiavalkya, 4 Katyayana, 5 Kautilya 6 and Sukra 7 all agree on this point. 
Dr. Jayaswal says : "It is remarkable that the king is not given even the 
power of vetoing. 8 The Sukramti says that when a trifling work is difficult 
to be accomplished by a single individual it is much more difficult for a king 
to carry on the administration of a state single-handed. Therefore even if he 
is an adept in all sciences and a past master in statecraft he should never act 
without the advice of his ministers and he must always abide by the well 
thought-out decisions of councillors, office-bearers, subjects and members 
attending a meeting and never by his own opinion. By following his own will 
he will become the cause of misery and will soon get estranged from his king- 
dom and alienated with his subjects. 9 It further says that the king 'who does 
not listen to the counsels of ministers about things good and bad to him is a 
thief in the form of a ruler, an exploiter of the people's wealth. 10 ' 

Appointment of Ministers 

Ministers were appointed mostly from the families yielding hereditary 11 
ministers to the State, yet the merits of deserving statesmen were never dis- 
regarded and the king's discriminating choice often fell on them. Kalidasa 
attests to the fact that expert statesmen were appointed to function as the 
ministers of State. 12 These appointments were made by the king and we have 
an apposite illustration in the Junagadh Rock Inscription of the concern which 
he felt over the appointment of a Governor (Gopta) 13 . It will not be out of 
place to quote here the views of a few Hindu political theorists referred to by 
Kautilya in the ArthaSdstra. We find that Kaunapadanta 14 is in favour of 
appointing hereditary ministers, 'whose fathers and grandfathers had been minis- 
ters before.' "Such persons," he continues, "in virtue of their knowledge 
of past events and of an established relationship with, the king, will, though of- 
fended, never desert him " Vatavyadhi 15 opposes Kaunapadanta on the ground 

1 *PT: M'tdfol' 3**r *nj5 ^ ^frftr I Ibid., 

2 *r 5fT SHHhtttftr *j^finrt ^ ^73% Ibid. 

3 Manusmrti, VII. 3 0-31. 

4 Yajfiavalkyasmrti, Bk. I. 311. 

5 Vtramitrodaya, p. 14. 

6 Arthatastra, Bk. I. Ch. 15. 

7 Sukramti, Ch. II. 5-6. 

8 Hindu Polity, Part II. p. 118. 

9 Sukramti, Ch. II. 1-8. 

10 Ibid., 515-16. 

"iftf: R*^,XIL 12. XIX. 57- 
12 iTflrfr: flrctPKIKJ: Ibid., VIII. 17. 
18 Verses. 8-n. 

" Artbatistra. Bk. I. Ch. VIII. 
Ibid. Bk. I. Ch. VIIJ, 


that such persons acquire complete dominion over the king and begin to play 
themselves as the king. "Hence/ 1 says he, "he shall employ as ministers, such 
new persons as are proficient in the science of polity. It is such new persons 
who will regard the king as the real sceptre-bearer (dandadhara) and dare not 
offend him." The son of Bahudantl, 1 however, is of a different opinion for, 
he thinks, *a man possessed only of theoretical knowledge, and having no ex- 
perience of practical politics, is likely to commit serious blunders when engaged 
in actual work*. He advocates: "Hence he shall employ -as ministers such 
as are born ot high family and possessed of wisdom, purity of purpose, bravery 
and loyal feelings, inasmuch as ministerial appointments shall purely depend 
on qualification." This view is endorsed by Kautilya who says: "This is 
satisfactory in all respects; for a man's ability is inferred from his capacity shown 
in work. And in accordance with the difference in the working capacity. 2 " 
The Sukrariiti* asserts: "Work, character and merit alone are to be respected 
neither caste nor family. Neither by caste nor by family can superiority be 
asserted," Kalidasa seems to take a middle course and he would favour a Council 
of Ministers composed both of hereditary ministers (Maulaih}* and of those 
perfectly skilled in polity (nltivUdradai h).* It is significant that the Imperial 
Guptas favoured the idea of choosing ministers from hereditary families which 
is evidenced by the phrase anvayapraptasdcivya occurring in an inscription 6 of 
Candra Gupta II. 

"Plurality of Ministers 

We have several references to a plurality of ministers. 7 The very terms 
'Amatya-Parisat 8 ' and 'Mantri-Parisat 9 ' warrant its existence. The poet at 
a place says e this another 10 ' (ayam aparah) signifying more ministers than one. 
Besides several heads of departments, whose functions will be noticed in due 
context, Kalidasa alludes to the offices of at least three ministers, viz., the Chief 
Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Finance, Law 
and Justice. These along with the Yuvaraja and possibly others, not mention- 
ed by the poet, perhaps constituted the Council of Ministers. 

Working of the Ministry 

The important matters of the State were decided by a whole Council of 
ministers and the results of the deliberations communicated by the Chief Minister 
to the King in the following manner which may serve for a type: "The minister 
begs to submit We have resolved (avadhdritam] how matters in connection with 

1 Ibid, 

a Artbatistra, Bk. I. Ch. VIII. 

3 Ch. II. iii-iiz 

* R/S50K XII. 12, XIX. 57. 

'Ibid., Vm. 17. 

6 Udaigiri Cava Inscription of Candra Gupta II. V. 

7 gf%t* &***., i. 34, ic. 49, ift* XIL 12, ijfrfr, vm. 17, tfrqprni; xm. 71. 

XIII. 66, niMwri: XVIII. 36, ^TTrt: Ibid., 53, XIX, 4, 7> 5*> 54, 575 V., p. 87. 

8 ABA, p. xo 


Vidarbha are to be settled; we just wish to know your Majesty's opinion/* 1 
The singular number used for the reporting Minister refers evidently to the Chief 
Minister of State who seems to have done all negotiations between the Council 
of Ministers and the King, but the policy of the State, it appears, was decided 
by the deliberations of a full cabinet. The decisions arrived at by the Council 
of Ministers were submitted to the King for his confirmation since it is evident 
from the above reference that merely the opinion of the King was sought of him 
when the course of action had already been determined by the Council of Ministers 
as a whole (vidarbhagatamanusthejamavadhdritamasmdbhih) i.e., we have determined 
as to what is to be done in confiedtion with Vidarbha). It may also be noted 
that the opinion of the King has been sought by a single minister as it would 
appear from the use of the singular number amdtye vijndpayati but the course 
of action has been determined by the full Council of Ministers, who have already 
given their individual opinion. The Sukramtfi emphasizes the fact that the indivi- 
dual ministers and the king must give their opinion separately without know- 
ing that of one another so that the opinion thus obtained must not be influenced 
and an independent conference may be possible. Manu makes the king consult 
the ministers first separately and then all of them together, i.e., in Council. 3 
This view has been fully endorsed by the Arthatdstra* It must be noted that in 
the Mdlavikagnimitra the Minister does not disclose to the King the details 
of the course of action in connection with Vidarbha already determined, but he 
only seeks to know his opinion on that point as required by the Council which 
he represents. It cannot be characterized as a request for the verdict of the king 
on the proposal of ministers for of that he is absolutely ignorant. His opinion 
(abhipretam) alone is sought of him. And when he has given his opinion on the 
point at issue the Chamberlain goes away to inform the Council of Ministers 
(through the Chief Minister) of the King's opinion which incidentally turns out 
to be identical 5 with that already held by the Council. The point becomes quite 
clear when we read the following expression 6 of the Chamberlain: "My Lord, 
the Minister respectfully says "Happy is your Majesty's idea; such is 
the view (dartanam) of the ministers also." The use of the tferm darfanam 
is remarkable as it means actually a resolution considered by a body and 
passed by it. The above discussion shows beyond doubt that the Council of 
Ministers almost attested their approval to the opinion of the king and thus prov- 
ed a check on the arbitrariness of the latter. In this regard Kalidasa is even more 
guarded than the author of the Sukraniti inasmuch as he deprives the king of a 

: I 
MSl. 9 V, p. 103, edited by M, R, Kale. 

2 Ch. I. 732-33* It says: "The king should receive in written form the opinions of each 
separately with all his arguments, compare them with his own opinion and then do what is 
accepted by the many." 

|T ^ ^qHf*l>H*l*lH*1+3T *T*4<^ I 

VII. 57. , * 

I P- * 
6 M*I. 9 p. 103, edited by M. R. Kale. _ ^ 



previous knowledge of the resolve of the Ministers before he has given his opinion 
while the Sukrantti makes them submit their individual opinion to him. 1 The 
working of the Council of Ministers has been amply shown above by the illus- 
tration from the Mdlavikdgnimitra. Here it may not be out of place to further eluci- 
date the point with the evidence of the Sukraniti which also contains this sort 
of procedure. It says that on a document passing for execution "the Mantri, 
Chief Justice, learned adviser as well as the ambassador should write. 'This 
document has been written with my consent/ The Amatya should write Veil 
written is this/ the Sumantra then should write Veil considered/ The Pra- 
dhana should write c true/ The Pratinidhi is to- write c lt can now be approved.' 
The Crown Prince should write 'It should be accepted/ And the Priest is to 
write 'approved/ They should put down their seals over it at the end of the 
writing. And the king is to write and sign 'accepted/" 2 As observed above, the 
description of the activities of the Ministers as given by the poet was undoubtedly 
to some extent conventional in character, but the details which he sometimes 
gives are by no means traditional and may in a general way reflect diplomatic 
activities of his own times. 

Besides the charge of the administration in the absence of the king and 
determining important courses of action of the state in the presence of the king 
the Council of Ministers discharged certain additional functions. 

Various Duties of the Ministry 

On the occasion of the coronation ceremony it was the ministerial assembly 
that made preparations forthe consecration of theprospectiveking under the orders 
of the retiring ruler. 3 It was they who invested the new king with the royal 
insignia 4 and with the powers of a full-fledged sovereign. It was they again who 
called Bharata to power on the demise of king Dasaratha when Rama was away 
and the throne of Kosala lay vacant and the subjects had been rendered kingless. 6 
In case of the absence of a male heir to the throne a pregnant queen obtained the 
royal authority with the help of the ministers who instantly invoked a gathering 
of chief citizens (Prakrtimukhyd /?)from among the subjects. 6 At the coronation of 
a sovereign, it may be observed, the people were represented through the promi- 
nent men of the populace. 7 It is significant that in this connection Kalidasa 
refers to the Pauras and Janapadas which have been so ably shown by Dr. K. P. 
Jayaswal in his chapters regarding these in the Hindu Polity* to have been political 
bodies representing respectively the urban and rural population. Kalidasa 
does noc refer to the representation of the Pauras and Janapadas at every accession 
because he does not describe the consecration of each king, but wherever he des- 

. 1.332-333. 

a ch. n. 731-740. 

* Vik., p. 136; Ragbtt., VIII. 1-4. 
R^., XVII. 27 
'Ibid, XII. 12. 
Ibid., XIX. 55. 

7 Ibid., XII. 3, XIX, 55, II. 74, XV. 102, XVI, 9. 37. 
6 XXVIJ and XXVffl, tf, &7/w., XII. ? , XIX. 55, H. 7?, XV. 102, XVI. 9 , XVI. 


cribes the coronation he, in most cases, does refer to the Pauras and the Pra- 
krtimukhyas as well. Besides, he has to consider also the poetical and 
metrical exigencies. The fact that the Prakrtimukhyas were summoned to wit- 
ness a coronation may point to their legal status as a determining element in the 
succession of a king and they may in consequence, have proved an additional 
brake along with the Council of Ministers on the self-willed designs of the sover- 
eign. It is noteworthy that with the approval of the representatives of the people 
and the ministers, the queen, bearing the foetus, was consecrate^, and then alone 
she could sit on the golden throne and govern the kingdom with her 'command 
never disputed.' 1 Another allusion points in the same direction: "The group 
of ministers of that king who had gone to heaven saw the deplorable condition 
of the subjects without their master and unanimously made him who was the 
solitary fibre of the family, the king according to rule/' 2 

When a king died, describes Kalidasa, it was the duty of the ministers to 
see that no chaos and anarchy worked out the destruction of the State in the period 
of transition when power was to be transferred to the heir-apparent. 3 The fear 
of anarchy was indeed rendered strong in case of a voluptuous ruler who had 
retired in order to serve well the ends of his libidinous desires, leaving the cares 
of the State to his ministers, 4 and who had eventually lost the confidence of his 
people; and this was so when the death of such a king occurred leaving behind 
him no male heir but only his enceinte queen. Then, as in the caseoi Agnivarna, 
the ministers with the family priest consigned him secretly to fire in the palace 
garden, thus evading the public eye, under the pretext of a ceremony averting 
evil produced by disease. 5 This point is duly supported by the Arthafdstra 
which says: "The minister shall thus avert the calamities in whi'ch the king is 
involved; long before the apprehended death of the king, he shall, in concert with 
his friend and followers, allow visitors to the king once in a month or two (and 
avoid theii visits on other occasions) under the plea that the king is engaged in 
performing such rites as are calculated to avert national calamities, or are destruc- 
tive of enemies, or capable of prolonging life or of procuring a son;'' 6 "01 having 
gradually placed the burde^ of administration on the shoulders of the heir- 
apparent, the minister may announce the death of the king to the 
public." 7 

That the meetings of the Council of Ministers were not presided ovei by the 
king and their deliberations were not guided and controlled by him are facts 
evident from the message sent to him by the Chief Minister as we have dis- 
cussed above, mentioned in the Mdlavikagnimitra. In this regard Kalidasa is 
borne out by many writers on Hindu polity. The Sukramti provides the Council 

2 Ibid.,XVin. 36. 

8 Ibid., XIX. 52,54. 

* Ibid., 4. 

6 Ibid., XIX. 54. 

Bk.,V. Ch. 6. 


XIX. 57. 


with its own President (Pradhana). 1 The ArfhaSdstra is not quite clear although 
it may be implied from Bk. I. Ch. 1 5 that the king attended the meeting of the 
Council. Epigriphical records come to Kalidasa's help. ASoka says in one of 
his Rock Edicts 2 that if any of his orders is shelved by his Council of Ministers 
(Parisa) after dis(Jussion he should be at once apprised of it. This could be done 
only if he had not a seat in the. Council. 

The above discussion would make it evidently clear that the ministers and 
the representatives of the people were essentially democratic elements and proved a 
considerable check on the arbitrariness of their sovereign. But here we must 
guard ourselves against accepting the position as described by Kahdasa for the 
evidence is mostly of a traditional and idealistic nature, and we cannot accept 
that during the strong Gupta rule such a check by the ministers could have been 
actually possible. Agnivarna's may be cited as a case in point. We have no 
reference as to what would have been the course of action on the part of the king 
or that of his ministers if perchance they had differed in their opinions and a 
possible deadlock had ensued. The Sukrariiti comes to our help and it says that 
the king was aksama in such a case 3 It makes Pratinidhi, one of the ministers 
forming the Council, *press upon the king the business which must be done whe- 
ther favourable or unfavourable/ 4 He is not the representative of the king and 
Prof, Binoy Kumar Sarkar is quite off the mark when he translates Pratinidhi as 
the 'Viceroy/ 5 "If the king fears their control then alone the ministers can be 
called good." 6 

Status and Designation of Ministers 

The status of a minister was considerably high to which due regard was paid 
by the king. When Agmmitra orders his Minister to inform Virasena to marcli 
against the king of Vidarbha he makes use of a Pronoun like bhavan 1 for him which 
indicates distinct honour. It is the same term as oae used by the king of Vidarbha 
in his letter to Xgnimitra. 8 In the Sakuntala* the King addresses his Minister 
with so dignified a phrase as Arya, noble. c Bhavan' and 'arya' are terms seldom 
used for others than the ministers and the Purohita, who, as we shall see, besides 
being the king's preceptor, was also a member of the Cabinet. The king did not 
disregard the advice of his ministers even in his extreme wrath. Agnivarna, 
however, is an exception here also. When Agnimitra, highly enraged with the 
impudence and impertinence of the King of Vidarbha, orders his Minister to 
send biddings to the army corps under the command of Virasena for his extermi- 
nation, he stops suddenly and enquires of his Minister if he thinks otherwise. 10 

* 150-155. 

I. A. % 1913, p- *4*. 

8 Hind* Polity, Part II, p. 139, 

* &An00#, Ch. II. 1 68. 

5 Ibid., 150-155. Translation. 

* Ibid., 163. 

7 *mr fr ?r5n-nro% i M*- p. n. 

Af<*/., p. ii. 

&fc.,p. 198. 

10 (Vuk above, No. 2) MaL, p. i x. 

Vit v 

The latter, however, does not hold a cbntrary view and declares withal, quoting a 
political authority, 1 that an enemy who has but recently occupied a kingdom, is 
very easy to extirpate, owing to his not having taken roots in the hearts ot his sub- 
jects, like a tree infirm on account of itd being lately planted. 2 Thus the ministers 
while enjoying highly important shatfe and wielding considerable authority and 
power in the government were treated with remarkable deference -by the king. 

Kalidasa uses the terms Mantn, Amdtya and Saciva as synonyms and in a gene- 
ral senfe. 3 Manu 4 calls Chief Minister Amdtya, while the ArthaSdstra* and the 
Sukrantti* call him Mantrtn. Kalidasa does not make any such distinction. 

Members of the Council of Ministers 

We shall now proceed to discuss the possible members of the Council of 
Ministers on the strength of our scanty evidence on the point. We have already 
seen that the heir-apparent, Yuvaraja, held an office and was a functionary of the 
State who divided, 7 as it were, the. sovereignty of his father between the latter 
and himself. Kautilya makes him one of the members of the Council of Ministers 
and places him fourth after the Chief Mirister. 8 Kalidasa does not give the number 
of the Council of Ministers but he names the officials who in treatises ot Hindu 
polity have been referred to as members of the Council of Ministers and 
therefore we shall try to equate these particular officers with those thus named. 

Chief Minister 

The Minister, who reported to the King in the MdlavikdgnimitrcP ot the re- 
solve of the Council of Ministers on the issue of Vidarbha and who was further 
entrusted with the secret custody of the opinion of the King, must have been a 
privileged minister to whom the opinicns of both the Council of Ministers and the 
King were confided. It was he who first learnt of the coincidence or difference of 
opinions of the King and his Council. He seems, therefore, to have been some- 
thing like a Chief Minister of State. The ArthaSdstra calls him simply MmtriiP* 
and gives his position as the first among the ministers. 11 Manu recommends a 
Brahmin for this post and advises the king to depend entirely on him and leave the 
execution of all resolutions to him. 12 Manu, however, calls him Amdtya and 
not Mantrin. In him, he says, is vested the entire danda i.e., administration. 14 
In the Divydvaddna Radhagupta, the Chief Minister, is styled Amdtya. 

: Ibid., Gr^cfiKq-qTW Ibid. 

2 Ibid., I. 8. 

8 Cf, Ra&bu., I. 34, VIII. 17, IX. 49, XII. 12, XIII. 66, 71, XVIII. 36, 53, XIX. 4, 7, 
54, 57; Vik., p. 87, etc. 
4 Afammi7#,Vn. 65. 
Ch.H. 168-73. 

7 fiwKrr VIA., v. 22. 

8 Artbafatra> Bk. V. Ch. 2, 

Edited by M. R. Kale, p. 103. 
10 Artbaiastra* Bk. V. Ch. 2. " Ibid 

Manwmrti, VII. 5 8-5 9, XII. 100. 18 Ibid., VII. 65 . 
"Ibid. 18 ASokdvaddna. 


Minister for Foreign Affairs 

We tead of a minister in charge of political correspondence who received 
political presents, letters and embassies from feudatory princes and other friendly 
or inimical foreign powers as is evident from the announcement of the Chamber- 
lain in the Malavikdgnimitra, Act V: "Your Majesty, the Minister begs to say 
'Two girls skilled in arts, out of the presents sent from the Vidarbha country, 
were not sent to your Majesty as they were thought not to be in good trim of body 
owing to the fatigue of the journey. Now they have become fit to be recei'vecl 
in audience by your Majesty. Your Majesty, therefore, will be pleased to 
give the order with respect to them.*" 1 This minister was thus analogous to a 
Foreign Minister of modern times. He used to send a report of the articles re- 
ceived in present from foreign powers to the king for the latter's orders as regards 
their disposal. He also negotiated political treaties at the command of the king 
and the Council of Ministers. 2 He may have held a portfolio similar to the 
Sandniviffahika of the Gupta epigraphical records. 3 

Minister for Revenue and Law and Justice 

Kalidasa refers to minister holding the charge of the two portfolios of 
Revenue and Law and Justice. 4 Kosa 5 has been generally associated with the king 
and it is possible that the king was his own Finance Minister. It may be noted 
that Manu, whom Kalidasa refers frequently, makes finance the control of the 
king. 6 Otherwise the Minister Pisuna of the Abhijndna Sdkmtala must be taken 
to have added to his two portfolios of Revenue and Law and Justice that of 
Finance as well. We have a reference to this minister as sitting in court and dis- 
posing cases. 7 It is even possible that there were two ministers of Revenue 
and Law and Justice, one for each, and the confusion may be set right by admitting 
that each minister reported to the king cases arising out of his own department; 
and the particular case, referred to in the Sdkuntala, although it may have involved 
high and intricate principles of Law and Justice, was probably, nevertheless, 
one pertaining to revenue law, and as such, was treated by the Revenue 
Minister. The Minister for Revenue was in charge of all the revenue adminis- 
tration. He received, counted and treasured all revenues 8 and reported all cases 
arising out of the Rnance Department to the king. The report was made by him 
by means of a document. 9 The Minister for Law and Justice sat with the king 

p. 94- 

8 Ibid., p. n, ibid., 94. 

8 Allahabad Pillar Inscription: the closing lines; Udaigiri Cave Inscription of Candra 
Gupta II, verse 3. 

I ^T: Hil<?<3 

Sak^ p. 219. Cf. JU-cMKJtM^fM^tf * f| I . . .<fk^R Ibid., p. 198, 
* R^gta, V. I. 9, XVII. 60, 81. 
ytfft *teKi*j ^ Manusmrti* VII. 65. 

7 ' 1 * "* - 




when the latter heard cases in his seat of justice 1 (vjwaharasana), and prepared 
a report of the cases thus disposed of. The Sukranlti says that the king on no 
account must act singly in judicial matters and he must "hear with the ministers 
the petitions and appeals of the people. 2 " Kalidasa here is closely keeping to the 
tradition. When the king was too indisposed to sit in the open court the Minister 
for Justice received petitions from the citizens and sent in the papers to be exa- 
mined by the king in his seraglio having himself looked into them first. This 
has" been graphically described by Kalidlsa as an incident of common practice 
as can be inferred from the following utterance of th? King: "Speak to Minister 
Pisuna with my words thus Owing to having kept awake for long, it was not 
possible for us to occupy the judgment seat to-day. Whatever business of the 
citizens may have been looked into by his honour should be handed over, after 
being put on record 3 ." 

We shall deal with Law and Justice and Revenue (or Finance) separately as 
two distinct departments for the sake of clarity. 


The priest or Purohita, 4 who appears everywhere in the writings of Kalidasa 
in connection with every* State function, must have been associated with the 
administration. He pkys the most important part in the consecration of the king. 
The king's attitude towards Puiohita and preqeptor is one of utmost reverence. 
Although Kalidasa does not specifically refer to him to be a member of the Council 
of Ministers it may be conjectured with justice that he was one, for "he is very 
likely included in the 'seven or eight' Ministers of Manu 5 ," and Kautilya names 
him next after the Chief Minister. 6 It may be noted that Kalidasa reverently 
follows directly or indirectly the two authorities*named above. The evidence of 
the Sakuntala* clearly shows that the Purohita, whose advice the King readily 
accepts, sits with the King in the Court and advises him. The Apastamba* 
and the Jdtakas* expect him to be an adept m the laws of the scriptures as well 
as in those of polity. Of him the Arthasdstra observes: "Him whose family 
and character are highly spoken of, who is well educated in the Vedas, and the 
six Angas, is skilful in reading portents, providential or accidental, is well ver- 
sed in the science of government, and who is obedient, and who can prevent 
calamities, providential or human, by performing such expiatory rites as are 
prescribed in the Atharvaveda, the king shall employ as high priest. As a stu- 
dent his teacher, a son his father, and a servant his master, the king shall follow 

1 H^^T^T . . . ^f^ i fa v* sterns 1 ^*-*f i fad *\*:*\ \ farsr H^I^i^^if^^ i srcsrcT^fsjrr <fkii4- 

*flf u i cUH^lO^^dlftRl Ibid., p. 198. 

8 Mai., p. 198 (quoted ante). 
M<>r>TT: K4gfar.,XVn. X3. x rar ibid., XIX. 54- 


6 jayaswal: Hindu Polity, Part II. p. 126. 
Artbatfstra. Bk. V. Ch, 2. 

8 Dharmasfifra . II. 5, 10, 13-14. 

9 Vol. I. p. 437, II. p. 30. 


him, 1 " The Sukrariiti is even more exacting in this regard. It says regard- 
ing the appointment of a Purodha: "One who is versed in mantras and ri- 
tuals, master of the three sciences, skilful at work, conqueror of the senses, 
subduer of anger, devoid of greed and passions, equipped with a knowledge 
of six Ahgas ( Veddngas) and of the science of archery with all its branches, one 
who knows the moral as well as religious interests, one fearing whdse anger 
even the king takes to virtuous ways of life, one who is well up in Nitifdstra 
and master of military implements and tactics is the Priest. 2 " Such was the 
importance of this minister. 

It is possible that the Commander-in-Chief, Sendpati? to whom the poet 
has referred, was a member of the Council of Ministers but of that we 
are not sure as there is no direct evidence in Kalidasa bearing on the point. 
There is rather an evidence to the contrary. When the VidiSa cabinet decides 
to send a regiment against the king of Vidarbha, Senapati Virasena is on the 
front and an order has had to be sent to him. 4 This may be regarded rather 
an adverse evidence. Sukranfti* actually passes him over. Kautilya, 6 how- 
ever, mentions him third after the Chief Minister. 

Kalidasa does not give a specific number of ministers forming the Council 
of Ministers and in this respect he follows Kautilya* who would not have any 
rigid number, as against Manu 8 who would have seven or eight of them. It 
may be noted here that Brhaspati 9 advocated sixteen members, the Manavas 10 
twelve, USanas 11 twenty to form the Council of Ministers. The Mahdbhdrata 12 ' 
makes the Council a pretty large body by giving it thirty-seven members chosen 
on the basis of caste representation. 

Secretariat and the Imperial Departments 

The government was technically known by the term 'Lokatantr^ and its 
administration was carried on by means of a highly organized secretariat com- 
prising of several departments run under distinct heads. Kalidasa makes a 
general reference to the Tirthas or heads of departments in the following ex- 
pression: "In this way employing the fourfold administration of government 
necessary to a king in its due order, as far as the eighteen ttrthas, he obtained 
its fruit. 14 " The term ttrthas has been fully explained before and its sense in- 

* Bk. I. Ch. IX. 

2 Ch. II. 156-160. 

3 Sak. 9 pp. 63, ff.; Mai, p. 11. 

* MSl. 9 p. n, 
6 11.71-72. 

6 Artba&tra, Bk. V. Ch. 2. 
' Ibid., Bk. I. Ch. 15. 

8 Jayaswal: Hindu Polity, Part II. p. 126. 

9 ArthaSastra, Bk. I. Ch. 15. 
10 Ibid. 

1J Ibid. 

12 Kumb. ed Santi, Ch. 85, 7-11, 

18 Jfc&, p. 154. 

14 Raebtt.. XVH. 68. 


dicating the eighteen heads of departments established. Kalidasa while re- 
ferring to this term does not specifically name the departments, and their heads, 
which may be given here from other sources. 

The eighteen ttrthas, according to Caturdhara, a commentator on the Maba- 
bharata y are the following : "Minister, Priest, Yuvaraja or the Heir-apparent, 
King, Dvarapala or the Lord Mayor of the palace, the Lord Chamberlain, the 
officer in charge of Prisons, the Collector of Revenue, the Director of Royal 
Orders, Pravesta, the Lord Mayor of the City, the officer drawing out the scheme 
of business, the officer in charge of Religion, the President of the House (Sabjia- 
dhyaksa), the officer in charge of the maintenance of the Army, the officer in 
charge of the Home Defences the officer in charge of the frontiers of the 
Nation and the officer in charge of the Forests. 1 

As shown below this list is mostly based on that furnished by Kautilya. 
A comparison with the following list of the tlrthas given by Kautilya will make 
it plain that the above list is based on it with only a few exceptions. Kautilya 2 
mentions the following eighteen tirthas: 

i . Mantrin 

2. Purohita 

3. Senapati 

4. Yuvaraja 

5. Dauvarika or the Lord Mayor of the Palace 

6. Antarvamsika or the Lord Chamberlain 

7. Prasastf or the Minister of Prisons 

8 Samahartr or the Minister of Revenue 

9. Sannidhatr or the Minister of Treasury 

10. Pradestf 

11. Nayaka or the Generalissimo 

12. Paura or the Governor of the Capital 
1 5 . Vyavaharika or the Chief Justice 

14. Karmantika or the Officer in charge of Mines and Manufacto- 

15. Mantri-Parisat-Adhyaksa or the President of the Council 

1 6. Dandapala or the Officer in charge of the Maintenance of the 

t>i ** i 1 1 
: II 

: u 

II &*$*** fa edited by G. R. Nandatgikar, note on 
the above. ' 

2 ArthaJastra, Bk. I. Ch. 12. 


17. Durgapala or the Officer in charge of Home Defences 

1 8, Antapala or the Officer in charge of Frontiers. 1 

While commenting on the term tlrtha the commentator Caritravardhana 
quotes Kautilya. 2 

Kalidasa does not refer to all of these eighteen heads of the departments 
but more than half of the list of the Arthatdstra^ quoted above, is covered by 
- eyen specific references by the poet. He names the following of the list, name- 
ly, (i) Mantrin (the Chief Minister discussed above), (2) Purohita, (3) Senapati, 
(4) Yuvaraja, (5) Dauvatika, 3 (6) Antarvamgika (the Kancuki of Kalidasa who, 
in the Sanskrit plays, serves as Mahapratihara or the Lord Chamberlain), (7) 
Samahartr (the Minister for Revenue and Treasury discussed above), (8) Paura 
(the Nagarika of Kalidasa), (9) Vyavaharika (the Minister for Law and Jus- 
tice discussed above) and (10) Antapala. 4 

A reference to the Council of Ministers has already been made in the 
foregoing pages, now the functions of other officials, high and low, may be 
mentioned. Besides those discussed above, the poet names the following high 
officials: Antapala, 5 Kaficuki, 6 Nagarika, 7 Rastriya, 8 Dharmadhyaksa, 9 Duta 10 
and other important royal officers. 11 Of the lesser importance Kalidasa men- 
tions the following: bards 12 and heralds, 13 scribes, 14 draftsmen and writers (le- 
khaka), Daivacintakdh^ bearers of royal writs, 16 Pratyaveksakah?- 1 guards of the 
treasury 18 and the harem, 19 spies, 20 drivers of chariots 21 and elephants, 22 gate- 

1 The English equivalents of the terms have been given as translated by Jayaswal in his 
Hindu Polity, Part II, pp. 133-34, 

2 ^frT{|Q>n^MiHfaM^<OqiR^i^q?fa 

*^ftffo% ^feFZT: I Quoted in the RjagbuvantJa eclited by N. G. Nandargikar, notes on 
TirthaXVII. 68. 

8 <fofe.,p. 62. 

4 M?/., p. 10, qrdHHyF Ibid., p. 9. 

6 Ibid. 

e ?&,p. 154; K/>fe.,p. 3. 

7 ?*., p. 182. 

Ibid., pp. 193-194^ 

9 * ^ ibid., p. 40. 

10 Att/., pp. 88-^9; R^Jir., V. 39. 

11 Sak., p. 49, srf^fnrq'SqT. Ra/bt n V. 63. 

12 B^hr., IV. 6, V. 65, 75, VI. 8. 

18 3dl(Vni: &*-, p. 157; M31-* p- 3 2 . H. 12, Vik., i, 2. 

"Afe/.,p. 88, 

"Ibid., p. 71. 

16 ^IW^ir^ll K^gto.> HI. 68. 

18 t ftf* . Bflfcir.. V. 29. 

19 t: IM; VII. 19. 

Ibid., XVH. 48; KH., HI. 6, 17; wm: **!>> XVII, 5 1. 
21 ^RITC, WTftr, etc. Ragtw.* 1. 54, 74. IH. 37. 
Ibid., V. 48- 


keepers, 1 stewards, 2 KiratP and Yavanl. 4 

' Antapdla was the officer-in-charge of the defences who protected the fron- 
tiers of the empire. There were frontier forts, 6 garrisoned and well manned, 6 
which were under the direct control of the Antapala. Vlrasena was such an 
Antapala posted to guard the southern frontiers 7 of Agnimitra's possessions. 
Kancuki ox the plays is the same as the Pratihara or Mahapratihara of the Gupta 
administration and the Antarvamsika of the Arthafdstra. He was the Lord 
Chamberlain, an aged personality, held in high honour by the king and addres- 
sed with considerable deference and familiarity 8 by him. He was the head of 
the entire establishment of the royal harem and had the whole force of the 
palace guards and the female Greeks under him. For the symbol of his 
authority he carried a golden staff (f^t^r). 9 This officer was confided with 
all the important secrets of the state for he acted as an announcer of opinions 
on both sides, i.e., the Council of Ministers as well as the king. 10 Pratihdri^ the 
female counterpart of the Gupta Pratihara, evidently worked under him and 
dealt directly with the ladies of the royal seraglio. She also, like the Kancuki, 
carried a staff, but of cane. 12 Ndgarika, the Nagaraka 13 of the Artha$dstra> was 
the Lord Mayor of the Capital and in charge of the city police. He watched 
the night offenders of the city and brought them to book. Kautilya says that 
"Like the Collector General, the officer in charge of the capital city (ndgaraka) 
shall look to the affairs of the capital. 14 " Rdstrtya was appointed to guard the 
peace of the kingdom (rasfra). But from the context in which it is used it can 
be safely inferred that Rastriya was a synonym of Nagarika. 

Dharmddhikdn had the charge of the department of religion. It is evi- 
denced by the speech of such an officer: "I, that person who is appointed by 
the king, the descendent of Puru, to (perform) the duty of (the superintendent 
of) religion, have arrived at this sacred grove to ascertain (if your) rites are free 
from obstacles. 15 " Thus we see that there was actually a department of the 
state to look after the ascetics in the forests and an officer was put in charge 
of it. It is to be noted that this department had long been inaugurated by the 
piety-loving Asoka, the great Buddhist Mauryan emperor, who had appointed 

^: R*<S**., V. 76. 

8 lid.,XVI. 
4 06., pp. 57> 4- 
*AUI.,f. 9; Ratfft; IV. 26. 
Ragbtf., IV. 2.6. 

I ^U*HlMm *r ?nrf sr*Nr?ffe^MM^7 wrfRr. i Mai., p. 9. 

8 Vide Sahtntala and MaLvikagnimitra. 

9 Ru., III. 41. 
10 M5i.> p. 101. 

II Ragbu., VI. 20, 26, 82. 

"tw^f lid.,VL26, ^nrcfT Ibid. A 82. 
18 Bk, II. Ch. XXXVI. 

14 Artbafatra, Bk. Il^Ch.^XXXVI. ^ 

15 < **<<a: i s> t p. 40. 


a set of officers called Dharmamahdwatras 1 whose duty it was to look after the 
promotion of religion preached by him through his edicts. The department 
appears to have endured till the time of Kalidasa. Kalidasa mentions both the 
Purphita or Purodha and Dharmadhikari which shows that these were two 
distinct officers. We have already shown above that the Purohita was a high 
dignitory of State and probably a member of the Council of Ministers. It is 
possible that the Dharmadhikari, as a head of one of the eighteen tirthas, work- 
ed under the guidance of the Purohita. It may be noted that both Caturdh'ara, 
a commentator on the Mahdbharata quoted above, and Govindaraja, a commen- 
tator on the Ramayana* mention Dharmadhyaksa as one of the eighteen heads 
of departments . Kalidasa clearly refers to the same. "...The place of the 
Purohita was taken," observes Dr. A. S. Altekar, "in our (Rashtrakuta) period 
by an officer whose business it was to exercise general superintendence over 
religion and morality. Pandita, the minister of morality and religion in the 
Sukrariiti) seems to embody the tradition of the Dhammamahdmdtyas of Aoka, 
Samana-mahdmdtas of the Andhras, 3 and the Vindyasthitisthdpakas* of the Guptas. 
The tradition was continued in the north by the Chedis, one of whose records 
mentions Dharmapradhdna in addition to Mahdpurohita* The office existed 
under the early Rashtrakuta ruler Nannaraja in 708 A.D. 6 , and the officer bore 
the significant title of Dharmdnkusa. It is not unlikely that the descendants 
of Nannaraja may have continued the office when they rose to the Imperial 
position in the Deccan. One may be reasonably certain that at least under 
kings like Amoghavarsha I and Amoghavarsha III, who were more interested 
in matters spiritual than temporal, the office must have been revived, if it had 
been allowed to lapse under their predecessors. 7 " It may be remarked that 
both Dr. Jayaswal 8 and Dr. Altekar seem to overlook the fact that the Sukramti 
refers twice 9 to a distinct department, of the religious establishments and the 
supervisee of charities, and puts DharmSdhikdri in charge of it. It is interest- 
ing to note that Kalidasa uses the same term for this officer and entrusts him 
with the same functions as the Sukramti. It seems that like Cedis, following 
an earlier tradition, Kalidasa gives both the offices of the Purohita as well 
as of the Dharmadhikari. It was natural for his king to have the assistance 
of these two officers for he has been often enthusiastically styled by the poet 
as Varnatram an dm raksitd VarndfraMaraksane jdgarfikah, Sthiterabhettd, Niyantuh 
and the like* 

Duta was an ambassador of the State who was sent to foreign powers to 
negotiate treaties and alliances and to estimate by his superior intelligence and 

1 Pillar Edicts No. VII, Rock Edicts No. XII. 
2 H. 100,36. 

8 Nasik Inscriptions, JB. I., VIII. p. 9 . 

4 A seal of this officer was discovered at Vaisali by Bloach; R. A. S. 9 1903-4, p. 109. 

5 Kumbhi Pktes of Vijayasimha, /. A. S. B., XXXI, p. 116. 
a Malta! Pktes, I. A. XVIIL, p. 230. 

7 Tie RSsbtra&fitas and tMr Times, pp. 169-70. * 
*#md Polity, Part IL p. 135. 

9 Cb, II. 240-41, Ibid., 327-28. 


opportunity the state of the foe. May be, the numerous spies of the State who 
acted as so many eyes 1 to the king worked under Duta. An official of this de- 
signation is the Minister of Diplomacy in both the ManusmrtP and the Sukra- 
n*ti? but the poet does not mean any such implication in the reference. Be- 
sides the above enumerated officers there were other important 'officers of State" 
(Rajapurusas), who by their various services rendered the machinery of the 
government efficient. They held various offices and were entrusted with im- 
portant duties that enabled them to be termed as adhikdrapurusas* It is pos- 
sible that the Pratyaveksakas belonged to this class of officers whose duty it was 
to examine the place first which was to be later visited by the king and to see 
if some danger was not lurking there. They were thus the watchers of the safe- 
ty of the king. Then there were the Sdsanahdrinah* the bearers of the royal 
writs, who ran to and fro with the written commands of the king and the Heads 
of the various Departments of the State and thus contributed to a swift exe- 
cution of affairs of the government. They have been mentioned also by the 

There were further the lower officers who may now be mentioned. Bards, 
variously termed as bandinab? bandiputrdh* and sutdtmajdh? were more for 
pomp and dignity of the king than for actual business of State. Their busi- 
ness it was to sing the glories of the royal house on important 'occasions and 
in the morning and evening and to act as paraphernalia 10 of the sovereign. They 
were also a noted feature of the Gupta times. 11 Heralds or Vaitdlikas were 
necessary attendants of the king Their duty was to announce the hours of 
the day as also perhaps of the night to the king, whose days and nights were 
divided in several periods assigned to different purposes in which he was ex- 
pected to attend the State business. Thus the heralds reminded jhe king of 
the hours of the day and night and consequently of the respective duties allot- " 
ted to be performed by him during those hours. Lekbaka was the scribe, wri- 
ter and draftsman of the State. It was one of this class of officials who read 
toAgnimitra the letter sent by Virasena from Vidarbha to his sister, the queen 
of Agnimitra. Dalvacintakdh were the soothesayers and fortune-tellers who 
were attached to the royal court. Besides these, there were several other petty 
officers, public servants and royal employees like the guards of the treasury 
and the harenf, spies, drivers of chariots and elephants, gatekeepers, stewards, 
Kiratis and Yavanis. Raksinah 1 * were the city-guards and constables who led 

u., XVII. 48- 
. 65-66. 

8 Ch. II. 87. 

* Ragbu., V. 6. 

IM/. f m.68. 


7 Ragbu., IV. 6, VI. 8. 

e Ibid., V. 75. 

9 Ibid., 65. 
iK/.,IV. 13. 

1L qt<HMKft Bhitari Stone Pillar Inscription of Skanda Gupta, verse 7. 

12 SaJk., p. 182. 


criminals to the courts of justice. They worked under 1 the Nagarifca and might 
have served as the day pickets and the night guards of the city. KJrafis and 
Yavams were officers of the royal harem and acted as the keepers and bearers 
of the king's personal arms. 2 They were constant companions of the king at 
home and abroad. They acted even as body-guards and surrounded the king 
when he went out ahu4ting 3 and for other sports. 4 It was customary with 
ancient Indian kings to employ Yavana females^ as their attendants, particularly 
as the bearers of their arms. By the term Yavana are to be understood the 
Greeks or lonians. The Arthasdstra also enjoins upon a king to be surround- 
ed by women at the time of hunting or at that of leaving the bed in the auspi- 
cious hours of the morning. 5 The reference to Yavanis is important inasmuch 
as we find in the writings of Megasthenes that when the king went out of his 
palace his palanquin was always surrounded by women bearing bows and ar- 
rows. 6 

Working of the Secretariat 

The working of the secretariat was considerably advanced. All impor- 
tant cases were put on paper and submitted to the king for his perusal and or- 
ders of which perhaps a record was also kept in the imperial offices of the state 
after having imprinted them with the imperial seal. The existence of such a 
seal has been frequently warranted by Kalidasa as we have seen before. The 
term used for the seal is arika the impression of a symbolic sign, and Sdsandnka^ 
the seal of authority which was imprinted on the royal writs. 

A quick despatch of business appears to have been a marked feature of 
the working of the secretariat. The Mdlavikdgnimitra tells us that when 
Agnimitra feceived the information that his opinion on the issue of Vidarbha 
had been confirmed by the Council of Ministers, he ordered the Council to 
send a despatch^to general Virasena, who had accomplished the conquest of 
Vidarbha, to act in the manner ordered. 7 Virasena was the officer in charge of 
those parts of the Narmada valley as also the field-marshal who could well 
execute the orders received from home on the point of the sword, if necessary. 
Too much consultation was considered injurious to the observance of secrecy 8 
about the matter. 

Some Political Documents. 

Here we may aiso add that the poet has left references to records 9 ajid 

1 Ibid. 

2 Ibid., p. 224. 
8 Ibid., p. 57. 

Bk.,I.Ch. zx. 

6 J2. H. I., pp. 129-30. 



political documents 1 and letters 2 enclosed within envelopes 8 (Prdbhrtaka). Four 
very condensed political documents are mentioned by Kalidasa and they may 
be quoted in full to give an instance of political letters and other official 
documents. The first of them, addressed by Pusyamitra, is as follows: 

"My blessings to you. Pusyamitra, the General, having affectionately em- 
braced his son, Agnimitra, of long life, writes from the sacrificial enclosure as 
follows: The horse which was let loose to go about unobstructed by me, con- 
secrated for the Rajasuya, having appointed Vasumitra, surrounded by a hun- 
dred rajaputras (princes), its guardian, and which was to return after one year, 
was seized while wandering on the southern bank of the Sindhu by a cavalry 
squadron of the Yavanas. Then there was a fierce fight between the two armies. 

Then Vasumitra, the mighty archer, having defeated the enemies, rescued 
ray noble horse that was being forcibly led away. 

, I, then, whose horse has been brought back by my grandson, will offer the 
sacrifice now, like Sagara who had his horse brought by Arhsumat. You should, 
therefore, come without delay, to witness the sacrifice with my daughters-in- 
law and with a pure mind 4 ." 

This is a letter from Emperor Pusyamitra to his son Agnimitra and it is one 
of the very few letters preserved in the Sanskrit literature. It is a remarkable 
document of the imperial secretariat which may sufficiently prove the existence 
of a high order of political transaction. This document is painstakingly precise. 
There is not a single word of useless import and not a phrase that can be removed 
from its context or can be improved upon. Its contents are thoroughly of a 
political nature except for some opening indispensable phrases of etiquette 
and affection. From the perfect political bearing of the draft one would hazard 
the suggestion that Kalidasa actually copied it from an earlier document which 
was yet preserved in the secretariat of the imperial court 5 , to which perhaps he 
was attached. 

The following is again a letter received by Agnimitra from the king of Vidar- 
bha which registers a high water-mark of statecraft and political correspondence. 
The terms of stipulation are put forth in a very clear, positive and precise langu- 

"The illustrious one (i.e. Agnimitra) wrote to me, 'Your cousin, prince 
Madhavasena, who had promised to enter into a matrimonial alliance with me, 
was while coming to me, on the way attacked by your frontier guard and taken 
prisoner. He with his wife and sister, should be ordered to be set free by you 
out of regard for me/ Now you know full well that such is the course of action 
of kings with respect to relatives of equal descent; therefore the honoured one 
should assume a neutral position in this matter; as for the princess sister she 
disappeared in the confusion of the capture: 1 will do my utmost tr 

1 Ibid., Ma/., pp. 88, 102. 

* q^nr &*., p- *> vfart ibid., p. 219; <fcf ml., p. 88. 

**flrnj*tf ^f Mil., p. ioi, snjcFFt m: IWd., Cf. 
* 4 Ma/., p. 102. 
6 Cf The Ayodhya Inscription of Pusyamitra. 


Now if your Majesty wishes that Madhavasena should necessarily be caused to 
be set at liberty, please mark the terms: 

"If the revered one will set my brother-in-law, the Mauryan minister, whom 
he has imprisoned, free, then I will immediately release Madhavasena from con- 
finement 1 /' 

The third is a document sent up to the king for his orders in which a revenue 
case has been reported by the Minister for Revenue. It runs as follows: 

"A leading merchant, named Dhanamitra, carrying on business by sea, 
died in a shipwreck. And childless, they say, is the poor man. His store of 
wealth goes to the king 2 ." 

This was the manner in which cases were reported to the king. The case 
with the decision thereon was put on paper (record), which was then sent to the 
king for his perusal and final order. The document in question is an excellent 
specimen of political organization of the business of the secretariat. 

Lastly, there is on record another document sent up to the king by the 
Minister for Foreign Affairs which is a resume of all the presents received from 
a foreign power. Agnimitra listens to this document, received from General 
Virasena, being read to him by royal clerks (scribes 3 ). It runs as below: 

"The Vidarbha king has been subjugated by the king's victorious army 
commanded by Virasena and his relation, Madhavasena, released from captivity; 
the a rnbassador, sent by him to the king with a present of very costly jewels 
and vehicles and a body of servants consisting mostly of accomplished girls, will 
see his Majesty tomorrow 4 ." 

The functions of the Ministers and the Heads of Departments and of 
other officials, high and low, having been described, now a detailed reference to 
certain of the departments may be made. 

1 MdL 9 1 7, and ante of ibid. 

2 trRMiiO TiJ^qi^t ERrftr^t ?n*r flo^n ftw: i 

I oak^ p. 219. 

Mai., p. 88.' 

p. 88. 

Ibid, p. 88. 




The Capital, (rdjadhdm\ otherwise known as mtlla\ was the seat of the 
government and was governed directly under the eye of the king. "The king", 
says the Sukran'iti^ "living in the capital city should discharge his daily dutifes 2 ." 
Here the royal court of justice 3 was held every day where the hardworking 
sovereign despatched the business of the citizens 4 of his kingdom. 

The grandeur of the imperial court was rendered remarkable by the atten- 
dance of numerous dependant ruling chiefs. The courts wore an appearance 
of the Mughal durbar where the feudatories vied with one another for the 
favour of the emperor. 5 

The existence of the Council of Ministers at the capital would show that 
the heads of the various departments had probably their headquarters there. 

When the king left the capital he caused it to be protected by suitable garri- 
sons 6 . The capital, which served as the type for cities in general, was protected 
by a strong wall called prdkdra 1 , vapravalaya* and parivestana* the gates of which 
were closed with huge doors from within by means of strong bolts 10 (argala). 
These ramparts of the city were encircled by a broad and deep ditch 11 (parikha). 
The ArthaSdstra 1 * and the Sukraniti both give a detailed description of the site, 
shape, and building, etc. of a capital. The latter observes with respect to a capi- 
tal that it is "to have the beautiful shape of a half-moon or a circle, or a square, 
is to be surrounded by walls and ditches ....... 14 " The ramparts and the ditch 

must have proved great barriers against the efforts of an invading army in those 
days of strife when a fortress was considered a safe retreat 15 . The eiitire city 

&K., IV. 26. 

2 Ch. I. 550. Cf. Ibid., 434- "Having built (such a capital), the king, well protected, 
should live there with his subjects." 

3 Rasgfw., VIII. 1 8; Sak.* p. 198. 

4 B^gto., VIII. 18; ,&*., p. 219. 

6 'WtiM^viyni WT^P^ &agbu., VI. 88. 

7 Ibid., XII. 71. 

8 tf ^STRTR^nit HR<sfhp<1t1MKI^ I Ibid., I. 30. 

9 Ibid., XL 52. 
10 <TTmT Ibid., XVIIL 4. 

11 Ibid., XII. 66; tfft^ .&*., H. 15. 

"Bk.II, Chs.HIandlV. 

18 Ch. I. 

14 Ibid., 420-30. 



(nagara) was under the protection of a" Ndgarika as we have seen above. The 
administration of the metropolis 1 may serve as a model of the administration pre- 
vailing in other cities. There were numerous other towns 2 and rich coastal 
cities as may be inferred from the existence of extensive commerce by sea. We 
shall discuss this in due context. 


The palace was a huge establishment with inner apartments 3 and outskirts* 4 . 
Palaces were variously named as Vimdnaparicchandd?, Mamharmycfi, Devacchandakd* * 
There were several chambers in a palace. One of them was a fire chamber 8 , 
with an elevated verandah. It was here that the king retired everyday to admit 
the physicians and ascetics 9 or to receive other kindred advents 10 . It was a 
chamber where the domestic sacred fire was kept ever kindled and the sacrificial 
cow waited. It was in consequence of its sacred character that the chamber 
was otherwise known as an auspicious room 11 (mangala grha). "Having seated 
himself in the room", says the Arthafdstra 12 , "where the sacred fire has been kept, 
he shall attend to the business of physicians and ascetics practising austerities; N 
and that in company with his high priest and teacher after primary salutation 
(to the petitioners)." Thus the evidence of JCalidasa has been corroborated by 
the ArthaSdstra. The inner apartments and outskirts of the palace as referred 
to by the poet have been fully described by the Mdtiasara 1 *, which refers to them 
by the terms antah-tdld and bahih-Sdld. 

The palace had a pleasure garden attached to it which was called pramada- 
vana 1 *. It was so laid out and arranged that the ladies of the palace could walk 
about in it without being disturbed by strangers. The Mdnasdra refers to it 
and locates it by the main gate of the palace 15 . A part of the palace garden was 
utilized for zoological purposes where wild animals and tamed apes 16 were kept. 
It may be noted that the Mdnasdra*- 1 also has an identical idea with regard to the 

^ Ibid., U. 70, V. 40, XIV. xo, XVI. 22, 24, 38. 

IWd.> IV. 81, HifgnJl ^ 43 ' ** VIL 33, fpftoTT XIV. 29, XVI. 

was located thus in the outskirts of the royal palace. 

5 M. U., 6. 

6 Vik. t pp. 64,65. 

11-22 or gr%s XVIII. 36; ftforr A/., pp. 89, 97, etc. 
Sak., V.3. 

Vik. 9 p. 26. ^rfT^ Ibid., The court of justice 

V. 25. 

,?> 156. 

i> p. SB. 


* I. C. 19. 

18 P. K, Achatya: Indian Arttittttun, p. 58 
M .,IL RafiganStha quotes 

u P. K. Acharya; Indian Arctitetwre, p. 58. 

lft JHI^: ^rWfl: %*^>^HiqtfV Pif^unl v MaJ. 9 p. 85. 

17 P. K. Acharya? Indian Arcbitotforc, p, 58. 


keeping of tamed monkeys along with other animals within royal enclosures. 
A prison was also located in the palace as we read it in the Malavikdgiimitra 1 . 
It may be noted that the Manasdra* also mentions the wisdom of building a 
prison in the palace and locates it in a 'rather out of the way place, such as the 
Brisha or the Antariksha part.' This is almost identical with the description 
given in the MdlavikdgnimitrcP. A complete detail of building the palace is 
given in the Sukramtfi. 

The harem lay within a secluded part of the palace and was protected by a 
well-organized body of guards known as avarodharaksakaf*. Like the later harems 
of the Mughal monarchs the royal seraglio was guarded by female officers who 
were mostly foreign stalwart Greeks (Yavanl.} These female guards were directly 
under the Pratihdraraksi* or the lady-keeper of the royal harem* PratJhfirarakst 
or Pratihdrfi as the feminine counterpart of the Pratihdra of the Gupta adminis- 
tration. She bore a cane staff 8 which was the symbol of her authority. She 
worked evidently under the Kancuki, the Lord Chamberlain, the Antarvamtika 
of the Arthasdstra and the Pratihdra of the Guptas. While giving a detailed 
description of the harem the ArthaSdstra says: "Eighty men and fifty women 
under the guise of fathers and mothers, and aged persons, and eunuchs shall 
not only ascertain purity and impurity in the life of the inmates of the harem, 
but also so regulate the affairs as to be conducive to the happiness of the king 9 / 
The Sukrariiti also advocates the use of eunuchs in the royal harem. It observes: 
"Those who are sexless, who are truthful, sweet-tongued, come of respectable 
families and are of beautiful forms should be appointed in the inner apartments 10 ." 
Kalidasa does not make a specific reference to the appointment of eunuchs but 
it is very much probable that they were included among the class of guards styled 
by him as the Avarodharaksakas 11 -. 

The whole establishment of the palace was placed under the charge of the 
above mentioned Kancuki, who was picked up from among the honest servants 
of the king for the responsibility of his office required him to be upright and stern. 
His entrance in the plays is generally marked by his thoughtful observations on 
old age decrepitude; and the serene dignity which age imparts to his mien adds 
to the impression he makes on the reader. He was a strong man, he informs us, 
when he was first appointed to his office, perhaps middle-aged. But the older 
he grew the more qualified he became for his office and that is why he was not let 
off even in his old age as is clear from the verse he utters: "Every householder 

PP- 6 4 79. 

2 P. K. Acharya: Indian Architecture, p. 58. 
8 ' P- 6 4 

., vn. 19. 

Ibid., VI. 20. 

7 $ak., M3L; Ragbu., VI. 20, 26, 82. 

8 *hw$f **&*> VL 26, t^pr 82. 

BL, I. Ch. 20. 
iCh. II. 371-72. 
11 Ragfa., VII. 19, 


in early age, strives to obtain wealth; and when his burden (of the cares of his 
family) is taken off by his sons, he can enjoy rest; but our old age, daily wasting 
the body, is locked up in servitude. Alas ! hard is the duty of serving in the 
harem 1 /* As it will be evident from the above quotation the Chamberlain was 
also entrusted with the care and service of the ladies. His office in this respect 
seems to have been analogous to that of the Antarvamsika of the ArthaSdstra* 
and the Striyadhyaksa-Mahdmdtra of the Aokan edict 3 . He was the head of the 
palace establishment in token of which he carried a golden staff 4 (hemavetra, 
golden cane). 

Dauvdrika* we have already discussed above. He is enumerated, as we have 
seen elsewhere, in Kautilya's list as 'the Lord Mayor of the Palace 6 / one of the 
eighteen heads of departments of State. We are not sure if he was independent 
of the Kancuki. But being mostly in charge of the great gates of the palace, and 
controlling the entrance and exit of the palace, as his designation suggests, he 
could not be independent or even coordinate in authority with the Chamberlain. 
He was evidently subordinate to him in office. The context shows that he was 
certainly a much lesser officer than his predecessor and prototype of the Artha- 
Jastra, although his importance cannot be underrated, since it was under his 
supervision, watch and vigilance, that the gates of the palace closed and opened 
and business passed within and without through them. Life-like standing figures 
of a Dauvarika, cut in high relief in stone, in the doorway, bearing a staff, may be 
witnessed among the exhibits of the Curzon Museum of Archaeology at Muttra. 
Dauvdriki 1 , his female counterpart in office, served in the royal harem, in the 
manner of the Pratihara who assisted the kancuki in the harem in the discharge 
of his duties. 


The Chief police officer of the town seems to have been the Nagarika who 
was connected with the work of the police within the precincts of the city. 
Nagarika, the Nagaraka of the Arthatdstra^ was perhaps like the Kostapala of 
later times, the head of the establishment of the guards of the city. We find 
this official in the Sdkuntala leading 8 a criminal to the Court of Justice with the 
help of his guards (raksinati). In the Vikramorvati also he is connected with 
the city administration. There again he is entrusted with the work of police 
by the king who commands him to 'hunt after the winged offender (a bird which 
had flown away with a gold chain of the king) when at eve' it goes to its rest- 
ing place. 9 There tht term Nagarika has been used in the plural number to 

1 Vik>, III. i. 

2 Bk.,V.Ch.II. 

* Rock Edict No. XII. 

*K.,IIL 41. 

6 ?A.,p. 62. 

6 Hindu Polity, Part II. p. 133. 

Ls 9 . 


124 +id^u' o H r cu ^I'lfW: *rra* Ptutt<mij fa^ai Pi$irW. I Cf. Ssk.> V. 
also t $fpf HHlRt>: 



denote the whole establishment of the city administration. The reference by 
the king to the Nagarika of the Vikranwrvati suggests an officer of a higher 
grade than one who is referred to in the Sdkuntala. This latter strikes one as 
a petty officer, perhaps placed immediately over the guards. 

The guards who follow the Nagarika of the Sdkuntala are a typical set of 
constables much similar in mind and action to the modern policeman. The 
hands of one of them itch to fasten the flowers of death to the head of an al- 
leged criminal. 1 But when the same is acquitted with rewards one of them 
eyes the money 'with envy' 2 and remarks cunningly with words pregnant with 
meaning that the Nagarika has well served the fisherman. The latter in his 
turn offers half of his reward to them 'for the price of flowers' 3 which is con- 
sidered very legitimate and proper 4 by one of them, and on which the Naga- 
rika himself remarks: "Fisherman, great as you are, you have now become 
my dear friend. With liquor as its witness our first friendship is desired. J5o 
let us go to the liquor-seller's shop itself. 5 " From the passage quoted above it 
becomes evident that the integrity of the police was not high. Tips, though 
not bribes, were not only freely accepted but even courted by the police who 
were moreover addicted to the habit of drinking. 

But, nevertheless, one fact must be borne in mind, and it is that the con- 
stables were very stern in their treatment with the fisherman, the supposed cri- 
minal, before a verdict of the court had been passed against him, so much so that 
they had been threatening him with a capital punishment. They did not accept 
bribe to the detriment of the aims of justice. The money accepted from the 
fisherman is not a bribe as it is received out of a reward money only when a 
verdict of not guilty has been passed, and not as a conditional stipulation before 
the hearing of the case. The ends of justice could not have suffered on ac- 
count of such tips for they came to the Nagarika as a result of the liberated 
fisherman's pleasure rather than as that of his embarrassment. 

Law and Justice 

The king's schooling in the scriptures as well as treatises on polity gave 
him a thorough knowledge of law with the help of which he was expected to 
administer justice. The punishment of the criminals *in proportion to their 
crimes 6 ' required of the king a sharp grasp of the judicial laws 7 which alone could 
give him an idea of the legal remedies in proportion to crimes. The king was 
the protector (Gopta] of his people and he applied law to the ends of justice. 
He was not the fountain of law but only its administrator as we find no refer- 

Ibid., p. 1 86. 
Ibid., p. 187. 
Ibid.,p. ( i88 

$ak. y p. 185. 

: \ Ibid. 
6 r*, I. 6. 

7 yi^^l'^ffedl^fii: Ibid., 19. 


ence in the writings of Kalidasa to the king being in any way connected with 
the making of law. Laws already existed before the king ascended his throne 
and in his coronation oath he promised to follow them. The coronation oath 
as embodied in the Mahdbhdrata reads: "Whatever law there is here and what- 
ever *is dictated by ethics and whatever is not opposed to politics I will act ac- 
cording to, unhesitatingly. And I will never be arbitrary. 1 " The Sukrariiti 
enjoins upon the king to decide law suits according to the DharmaJtdstra. 2 He 
could not rise over the all-powerful Common Law of the Hindus. Besides the 
DbarmaSdstras and the treatises on polity there existed already the rajadharma 
taught in the Rajanusasanaparva of the Mahabhdrata. We find a reference even 
in the jatakas* to laws for kings inscribed on gold tablets. The king being the 
watchman of the Varndsramadharma of the social orders, was required to be 
wakeful to look to the proper career of the people as prescribed by the VarnaSrama 
la\\S He was to see that these laws were well observed and not transgressed, 
that like the chariot driven by an expert charioteer people did not leave the 
righteous path even so much as the breadth of a line and kept close to the line 
of conduct enjoined upon them by the sdstras^ The king, as chastiser of the 
wicked, was like Varuna, the God armed with the noose who also discharged 
a similar function. 5 

The art of government (dandantti) was the very science of punishment 
(dandaniti). The penal law, therefore, was the very essence of administration. 
Criminals were to be chastised and brought to justice for the very existence 
of the State. 6 The system of punishment was a thorough and positive code 
of law in which punishment was graded according to the gravity of the offence. 7 
The king governed his people with a mind free from passion and intoxication 
of power (rajoriktamanap).* The effect of the rajogtma in a king is traceable 
in his whimsical, arrogant and vain, reckless and improper conduct. He was 
to act devoid of bias. The Sukramti likewise observes that the king should look 
after law suits tyyavaharas) by freeing himself from danger and greed according 
to the dictates of the Dharmasastras. 9 Holding the power of punishment in 
his hands, the king restrained (niyamqyasi) those who had started on the illegal 
path (yimdrgaprasthitdndm), settled disputes (praSamayasi vivddam) and thus con- 
tributed to protection. It was thought that apparent friends were ganerally 
made when riches abounded but in the king was consummated the duty of an 

ti Parva, ( CaL ) LIX. 107; Kumbakonum, 

LVIII, 1 1 6. 

*Ch.IV. Sec.V. 9-1 1. 
8 Vol. V. p. 125. 
4 Rjagbtt.* I. 17. 
, * Ibid, II. 9. 

Ibid *' L 2J * PmWKkii IX. 6; <mut*nmfln; Vik.> p. 123. 

7 M'fHM'tw'ki R^Atf., I. 6* 

8 *F*f Wll\WHi: STOTO IWd-> XIV. 85. Also rf .ft*., VI. *3- 


ever affectionate relative for the people. 1 The king sat in his Court of Justice 
along with his Minister for Law and Justice 2 and others as is evident Trom the 
word asmdbhih used in plural. The Sukranlti enjoins: "The king must never 
singly try the cases of two parties or hear their statements. Neither the 
wise king nor the councillors are ever to tiy in secret. 3 " It further says: "He 
should hear with the ministers the petitions and appeals of the people. 4 " The 
ArthaSdstra has a similar injunction for its king: "Accompanied by persons 
proficient in the three sciences (trividya) but not alone ____ 6 " To this the Sukra- 
nlti adds that he should hear law suits attentively in company of the Chief 
Justice, Amatya, Brahmana and the Priest. 6 

The Court of Justice was situated in the outskirts of the palace 7 where the 
king sat at the proper time (kdle) marked out by the Sastra and looked into the 
business of the citizens. 8 It may be noted, as quoted elsewhere, that accord- 
ing to the Arthasdstra and the Dasakumdracartta, the day of the king was divided 
into eight periods of which the second was assigned to the hearing of cases 
in appeals. The king sat in the seat of justice for a critical understanding of 
the nature of the business of the people 9 and to give his decision thereon. He 
himself looked with great vigilance into those intricate cases of plaintiffs and 
defendants, whirh, owing to their doubtful nature, necessarily demanded a care- 
ful scrutiny. 10 

The seat of justice was variously known as Vyavahdrdsana* 1 Dharmdsand-* 
and Kdrydsana. The term vyavahdrdsana denotes the real capacity of the king as 
a dispenser of legal justice adjudicating on the points of law. Vyavahdra means 
law. "'Vyavahdra" explains the Sukrariiti, "is that which by discriminating 
the good from the evil, ministers to the virtues of both the people and the king 
and furthers their interests. 13 " It refers to the king sitting in his judicial capa- 
city in business hours closing about the forenoon. 14 Dharmdjana signifies the 
righteous nature (dharmakdrya}^ of the work of justice and Kdrydsana indicates 
an untiring zeal and work in the cause of justice. The law courts were much 
frequented and the phrases aiiralajandsampdtd 1 * and jandkirnani^ strikingly sug- 

., V. 8. 

Irl etc., ibid., p. 198, quoted ante. 
3 Ch. IV.^Sec. V. 12-15. 
*Ch. I. 166. 
*Bk.,I, Ch. XIX. 
6 Ch. IV. Sec. V. 9-1 1. 
7 Vtk., p. 26. . 

., XIV. 24. 

Ibicl, XVII. 39, Mtrf^farf o^KHmj<^ Ibid., VIII. 18. 
10 Ibid., XVII. 39. 
Ibid.,Vni. 18. 

12 Vik., pp. 26, 30; $ak. } pp. 154, 198. 
18 Ch. IV. Sec. V. 7-8. 
14 $ak.> p. 154, V. 4, 5. 
16 Ibid., p. 154. 
" Vik. y p. 26. 



gest the p ene presented by a modern court of law where the tide of the litigant 
people was ever swelling. 

Criminal Law 

Kalidasa refers to a rather severe code of penal law* According to the 
criminal code as evidenced in the writings of the poet the offence of theft was 
punishable with death. 1 The fisherman of the Sdkuntala was accused of theft 
alone, although of royal jewel, and yet he was considered doomed to destruc- 
tion by means of either a stake, dogs or vultures. 2 The capital punishment 
for theft is much in keeping with the Code of Manu 3 where a similar punish- 
ment for theft has been laid down. The same was the case in England down 
to the eighteenth century. The Arthafdstra also directs capital punishment 
for simply entering a goldsmith's workshop. 4 The death sentence was exe- 
cuted by impaling 6 the condemned person and then throwing the remains of 
his body to be devoured by vultures 6 or dogs. 7 Before the execution it was 
customary to decorate the doomed criminal with flowers. 8 Murder was 
legally punishable with death. 9 Before execution, orders or royal writs 10 were 
necessary to be issued and passed to the proper authorities conducting the exe- 

From the above record it would appear that the penal code was severe 
and legal penalties of criminal breaches of law were harsh. From a scene in 
the M.dlavikdgnimitra it may be inferred that even women offenders could be 
put in fetters. 11 Despite the severity of the criminal law thieves 12 (pdtaccara) 
and burglars 13 (gandabhedakdK) and waylayers were not unknown and the poet's 
assertion that theft, not being in practice was to be found in books alone, 14 is 
sadly exposed to criticism unless it be supposed to refer to an ancient regime, 
which it does. A verse 15 in the Mdlavikdgnimitra warrants the existence of way- 
layers who used to waylay even armed merchants with their superior forces. 
"There appeared a host of waylayers/' says the narration, "bow in hand and 
shouting, whose chests were covered with the quiver-straps, who wore plumes 
of peacocks* feathers that hung down to their ears and who were irresistible 

l8 5 'HkH'fH^^dl Vik., V. i. 

> p. 187 gfsrf^nrf^rftr ^fl^' ^r srs^rftf ibid., p- 186. 

ti y VIIT. 
*Bk.,II. Ch. 13. 

*9 p- 187. 

6 Ibid., p. 1 86. 

7 Ibid. 

8 ^rrf 5^Rr: frra^ ibid., p. 185. 

tt. 9 IX. 81. 

>p. 186. 
. 9 p. 64 fHJM|rV)Mf ?^T P* 79- 

. 183. 
18 Ibid., p. 184. 

. 10. 


at the first onset. 1 " The picture, it may be observed, is one of a frontier rob- 

The severity of the criminal law, however, may be easily explained. Kali- 
dasa was depicting the deeds of an age considered very ancient even in his times 
and themes of these deeds were naturally drawn from the epics. Therefore, 
in order to save himself and to rise above the possible anachronism, he has tried 
to apply to the old conditions the system of law as codified in the Manavadharma- 
jdstra and the Kautiltya Arthasdstra. That is why he repeatedly returns to the 
treatises on polity and law already considered old in his time and perhaps only 
partially in practice. Otherwise the award of capital punishment for the crime 
of theft would be preposterous and highly irreconcilable when read along with 
his patronising injunctions like the following: "Whoever imposes severe 
punishment becomes repulsive to the people, while he who awards mild punish- 
ment becomes contemptible. 2 " Thus he enjoins upon the king to take a mid- 
dle course as regards the award of criminal punishment. His ideal in criminal 
punishment is yathdparddhadanda the sense of which would be entirely lost 
if we think that he is betraying himself and his times while depicting some of the 
older tales in his narratives. The suggestion of capital punishment might have 
been made in way of an irony and a satire on the older systems of law and punish- 
ments, which were indeed very disproportionate to the offence, and the irony of 
the poet depicting the severity of the archaic administration must have been 
appreciated by the public witnessing the play. 

Prison \ 

The prison 3 was located in an underground dungeon, as is evident from the 
phrase pdtdlavdsam? in an out of the way part of the royal palace. We have al- 
ready seen that the Mdlavikdgnimitra and the Mdnasdra refer to the existence of 
the prison in the outskirts of the palace. We have a reference to chains and 
cellers in the phrases mgalapadyd? and nigalabandhane*. 

Civil Law 

There are comparatively fewer references to civil law in the writings of 
Kalidasa. One singularly positive reference to it may be read in the Sdkunfala 
Act VI, where the king orders his Minister for justice to look into the cases 
filed to him by the citizens 7 and then to submit a report thereon to him. The 
Minister reports to him the only case 8 heard that day due to the heaviness of 
business as follows: 

"A leading merchant named Dhanamitra, carrying on business by sea, 

1 Ibid. 

2 * *sTCt ^ ^ TJTTST ijj: &#*"-, VIII. 9. 
3? BTO'I! R^//.,VI. 40. 

4 MdL, p. 64. 

5 Ibid. 

6 Ibid., p. 79. 

7 p. 198, text quoted ante. 

8 Sffk., p. 219, text quoted ante. 


died in a shipwreck. And childless, they say, is the poor man. "His store 
of wealth goes to the king," 

After reading the document the king orders the Minister to enquire if some 
one among his wives is quick with child. On enquiry it is learnt that one of 
Dhanamitra's wives has had her Punmsaiwna ceremony performed only recently. 
The king orders the Minister to restore the property of Dhanamitra to his 
family with the remark that 'surely the foetus deserves the paternal property. 1 ' 
The above quotation also incidentally shows that a regular record of tried cases 
was kept. This evidence is by no means peculiar to KSlidasa The Jdtakas? 
refer to them in their phrase Vinticaya-Pustaka. 

Right of Inheritance of the Widow 

From the above document it appears that the property of a deceased person 
in the absence of a male heir lapsed to the treasury of the Crown. It also appears 
that a widow had no right to inherit in her own right the property of her husband. 
The Minister had probably made enquiries as to whether Dhanamitra had a male 
issue, and on learning that he had none had decided that his large fortune should 
lapse to the Crown. Kalidasa is rather hasty in his description regarding the 
devolution of wealth inasmuch as he purports to dispossess a widow without 
male child of all her property in favour of the Crown. As a matter of fact, al- 
most all the Smrtis make the king recepient 6f a man's wealth only when a long 
list of reversioners is exhausted. Thus Narada 3 would give the king this right 
only in the absence of all a son, a daughter, a daughter's son, sakulyas, band- 
havas, and sajatis. Vasistha 4 , Yajnavalkya 5 and Visnu 6 are even moie exacting 
and they introduce after the list of the six kinds of dayadas even the acarya and 
his pupils before the wealth of the deceased can be appropriated by the king. 
Narada 7 gives the widow only the right to maintenance and that also on the 
condition that she remains chaste and keeps the bed of her deceased husband 
undefiled. It is further significant that Yajnavalkya 8 , Visnu 9 and Brhaspati 10 make 
the widow the first rightful successor to the property of her deceased husband. 
Brhaspati takes a very strong position in favour of the widow. He says that the 
widow is the acknowledged half of her husband's body (sarlrddha iv ), and so when 
the husband dies half of his body lives in the form of his widow. And when it 
is so, how can, he asks, any body get over the rights of the half-living husband ? 12 
He asserts that in the presence of all the dayadas it is the chaste widow who 

2 Vol. III. p. 292. 

3 N3radadharmaJastra> Dayabhaga, Trayodasa Vyavaharapada, 50-51, 

4 Vasi$thadkarm<tSa$tra> iyth Adhyaya, 81-82. 

6 "YajHavalkyasmrtt, Dayabhaga Prakarana, 8, 135-36. 

6 Quoted in the commentary on ibid. 

7 Naradadharmafastra, Dayabhaga, 13, 26. 

8 Dayabhaga, 8, 135. 

Quoted in the Commentary on ibid. 

11 ibid. 

lf sfrRarwftTS^ ^><H*ir<{: ^WINI II Ibid. 


is the rightful successor 1 of all the movable and immovable property 2 . Further, 
. he enjoins upon the king to deal with all the kinsmen of the deceased as one does 
with thieves if they stand in her way to inheritance 3 . 


In matters of evidence due care was taken to enquire into the environments 
and conduct of a witness. A virtuous witness was naturally given preference 
over a deceitful one as may be inferred from the ironical remark 4 of a character 
in the Sakuntala : The statement of the person, who since his birth has never 
been taught deceit, is without authority; let those forsooth, by whom the 
deceiving of others is studied as a science, be of authoritative words ! 

The person with whom a part of the stolen property was found was compel- 
led to restore the whole. This procedure was adopted in connection \toth the 
location of stolen property. The idea was that "he with whom a portion (of 
the stolen property) is discovered must restore the whole of what is claimed 5 ." 
In the illustration the stand taken is on legal ground. A thief is forced by law 
to restore the whole when a part is recovered from his custody; the presumption 
is that he must have stolen the whole of it. 

The above record of dispensing justice is remarkable. The anxiety of the 
king for his subjects was admirable. He proclaimed that he was to be taken 
assuredly for a relative that may have been lost by any of his subjects 6 . Such was 
his zeal for their welfare ! There was the idea of bandhutva in regular practice. 
The same idea (bandhurivaprajdndm) is embodied in a phrase used with respect to 
Bandhuvarma, a vassal of Kumara Gupta 7 . The same inscription at another 
place refers to the members of a guild as beloved by kings as their own sons 
(sutavatpratimdnitdh*}. When the king was so wakeful in administering justice 
to the people and awarding adequate punishment to the criminals and legal remedy 
and relief to the wronged, there could indeed be little chance of crimes to prosper 
in the land. The diseases supposed to take their rise from the perpetration of 
social crimes would vanish (janapade na gadaftf. Peace and prosperity would 
naturally prevail in the kingdom, and the following enthusiastic acclamation 
of a certain ideal ruler by the poet would not be far from truth: "When he was 
reigning over the earth, even the breeze did not dare disturb the garments of 



: It ^L 9 V. 25. 

: sraft ^terfa ^^nf fsnrr ^ i 

Tf>*T ^Vm cwijta*( 11 Vik., IV. 32. 
also of ^f JJ^T^ i|- ^TRrt J|fd<^kMldl I 

ftwrW+^M ^f AKfti*J^& II ibid., 33. v 

.&*., VI. 23. 

7 Mandasor St. Ins. of Kumara Gupta and Bandhuvai ma, verse 26. 

8 Ibid., verse 15. 



drunken women fallen asleep on half the way to pleasure ground. 1 " The 
rule of the paradise, therefore, was aptly considered as nothing but a prosperous 
reign 2 . 


The income of the State was brought to the office of accounts, chequed and 
treasured under the supervision of the Minister in charge of the Department of 
Revenue 3 . The Arthatdstra mentions a department of Accounts and deals with 
it at length in a chapter entitled the 'Business of keeping up Accounts in the 
office of Accounts 4 /' The Mauryan King ASoka also refers in one of his edicts 5 
to a department of Ganand which very probably was in existence. 

The sources of the State revenue as mentioned by Kalidasa may be discussed 
under the following heads: i. Land Revenue; 2. Irrigation; 3. Excise; 
4. State monopolies and other activities; 5 . Taxes; 6. Conquests; 7. Pre- 
sents and tributes; and 8. Lapses of property to the Crown. 

Land Revenue 

The State claimed one sixth of the produce of land from the people in re- 
turn of the protection that it gave to their person and property 6 . "Protecting 
asceticism from obstacles and wealth from robbers the king was made the en- 
joyer of one sixth of their earnings respectively by the Asramas and the differ- 
ent castes according to their respective capacities 7 /' The Sdkuntala makes the 
king enjoy a bhdgadheyam^^ which signifies a tax. The word is formed by the addi- 
tion of dheya to bhaga without any change of meaning. Bhaga has been explained 
by Kautilya 9 in the sense of portion of land produce payable to the government. 
Manu lays down that if a king protected his subjects well, he would receive a 
sixth 10 part from them. He also lays down that a king should receive from his 
subjects a sixth, eighth or twelfth part of the crops, according to the fertility 
of the soil 11 . The Sukraniti is more severe and recommends a lealization of 
one-third, one-fourth or one-half from places which are irrigated by tanks, 
canals and wells, by rains and by rivers, respectively 12 . It advocates the reali- 
zation of one-sixth from barren and rocky soils 13 . "Both the customary receipts 

ff[ TFJ^f H^4 r fi*ilg: Ibid., II. 50. 
8 Vide ante where Council of Ministers are discussed. 
4 Book II. Ch. 7. 
6 TfolT ft ^ ill^HHPNlft WTO t3^ ^ ^NRdt ^ the Fourteen Rock Edicts, III. Girnar. 

6 **5t$njaft^ Tf^mTT: R^g**, H, 66, Cf. also Ibid., V. 8, XVII. 65; Sak., p. 76, II. 13, 
V. 4. ^ _ * 

7 OTt T3RT faR>qta w vR^" ^R"^ I 

q^ir {HWI^tfw^ 3WTfa K$I>U<* I Raghu., XVII. 65. 

8 Act. II. 

9 Artbasastra> Book II. Ch. VI. 

10 tffcft HT <*3nmt TT?ft Trefa TBKT: Mamsmrti, VII. 

11 Ibid., 130. 

12 Ch. IV. Sec, II. 227-229. 
Ibid., 230. 


of a king," says Narada, "and what is called the sixth part of the produce of the 
soil, form the royal revenue, the reward for the protection of his subjects 1 ." 
Kalidasa, however, suggests the principle of the sixth part. This he calls the 
sustenance or the living allowance (f>rttiti) of the sovereign 2 . Land revenue 
was the first and foremost source of income which was rather strictly realized. 
Its collection was so thorough that symbolically even the spiritual earnings of 
the hermits in the penance groves were not spared and at one place it 
has been said that the wealth which arose from the castes or social orders was 
perishable but the foresters indeed paid the state the sixth part of their penance, 
which was imperishable. 3 As a matter of fact, we have a reference showing that 
even ascetics paid in kind their dues of the land produce, and it has been said 
that the sixth part of the rice collected by the ascetics due from them to the king 
was placed on the bank of the river to be taken away by the royal officers 4 . The 
principle of realizing land revenue from even the ascetics has been accepted by the 
Arthafdstra as well, as will be evident from the following extract quoted from it: 
"Fed by this payment, kings took upon themselves the responsibility of main- 
taining the safety and security of their subjects (yogaksemdvahdb)^ and of being an- 
swerable for the sins of their subjects when the principle of levying just punish- 
ments and taxes has been violated. Hence hermits, too, provide the king with 
one-sixth of the grains gleaned by them, thinking that c it is a tax payable to him 
who protects us 5 '." From the above discussion it follows that the taxes had 
been fixed by law, both by treatises on polity and by the sacred common law. 
There could not thus be a tussle between the king and his people on the point of 
taxation and both could refer to the established laws if an occasion wanted it. 
The Sukraulti asserts that "God has made the king, though master in form, the 
servant of the people, getting his wages (sustenance) in taxes for the purpose of 
continuous protection and growth 6 ." 


We have a reference to setu? which, among othei things, meant irrigation works 
which, to explain in the terms of Arthatdstra,* were the source of crops; the results 
of a good shower of rain are attained in the case of crops below irrigational works 8 . 
Since the mainstay of the State income was the land revenue the maintenance of 
a system of irrigation was quite in the fitness of things. It may have been 
maintained for a further realization of revenue and for an increase of the grain 
produce. It must be remembered that the revenue of land was not fixed and 
so with the increase in the grass produce the king's revenue, which was one- 
sixth of the land produce, also proportionately increased. This reference of 

1 Narada, XVIII. 48 (Jolly). 

2 ?/., V. 4. 

3 Ibid., II. 13. ^ _ ^ 

fd Ibid., p. 76. Cf. air^o^ooiPg.nti^nifn R<*gku. y V.J*. 

TSPT ftMdfa &*> P* 76- 

Ch. 1.375. 

, XVI. 2. 

ArthaSastra, Book VII- Ch. 14, 


Kalidasa to a system of irrigation may be corroborated by the ArthaSdstra and 
by facts from history. The Arthatdstr< notices such a department as of 
irrigation yielding revenue, and Megasthenes 2 , the Greek ambassador at the 
court of the Mauryan emperor Candragupta, makes a mention of it in his des- 
cription of the Mauryan administration. 


Although there is no evidence in Kalidasa of a tax levied on liquor shops, 
their existence in a large number is attested to by him. He refers to them as a 
common sight by the side of streets 3 ; and it cannot be imagined that such a 
source of income should have been left untaxed when we find the realiza- 
tion of revenue to have been so thorough as not to exempt even the 
ascetics. It may be noted in this connection that the Arthasdstra* makes them 
yield enormous revenue, where it also gives directions as to how liquor shops 
should be decorated in order to attract notice and to give comfort to 
their customers. 

State Monopolies and Other Undertakings 

The construction of bridges and running of ferry, farming, rearing of cattle 
and catching of elephants 5 were the chief State monopolies which yielded much 
income. Mines, which were exhaustively dug, appear to have been very rich 
in minerals 6 . They were so important a source of revenue in anrient India that 
the Arthdfdstra devotes a full chapter 7 to them and says that they c are the source 
of whatever is useful in battle/ 8 Elephants also must have yielded considerable 
income in the market of ivory after they had been utilized for the military pur- 
poses of the State. They might have been even sold alive. The Arthatdstra 
considers elephant forests as a source of elephants and as such advocates their 
preservation 9 . 

Several oth^i undertakings of the State brought no less income to the cof- 
fers of the Crown. Construction of bridges 10 (setu), keeping of pasture lands and 
rearing of the cattle (vdrtd} were some other profitable engagements of the State. 
Bridges might have yielded an income in the shape of ferries, and if we care to 
explain the phrase setu in light of the interpretation given by the Arthafdstia 
on setubandha, we can derive from it the sense of 'building of any kind 11 / There 
might have been a nominal tax on the grazing of cattle in almost free State pas- 
tures which the Arthatdstra considers to be the source of cows, horses and camels 

1 Ibid., Book II. 24. 

2 E.H. J.,p. 140. 

3 j**.,p. 1 88. 

* Book II. Ch. 25. 

6 3ffildT*NKN^iJ: &*&&** XVI. 2. 

6 Ibid., XVII. 66, XVIII. 22, III. 18; Ma/., V. 18. 

7 BbokII. Ch. 12. 

8 Book. VII. Ch. 14. 


30 to., VII. 34. 
Book. III. Ch. 8. 


, to draw chariots 1 * Vdrtd may be properly explained in the light of the Artba- 
jdstra> which says: "Agriculture, cattle-breeding and trade constitute vdrtd. 
It is most useful in that it brings in grains, cattle, gold, forest produce (kupya\ 
and free labour. It is by means of the treasury and the army obtained solely 
through vdrtd that the king can hold under his control both his and his enemy's 
party 2 ." The Sukrariiti offers almost the same explanation of varta. "In Varta," 
it says, "are treated interest, agriculture, commerce and preservation of cows 3 ." 
It appears that the government had also some Na^ul land which they caused to 
be farmed 4 and which formed one of the State undertakings. 


Trade and commerce by land and sea flourished and great commercial 
magnates, naigamas* and sdrthardhas*., paid sumptuously to their lord whose pro- 
tection of the trade routes had made the transit of the articles of merchandise 
from and to different corners of the country possible and safe. The princely 
merchants poured streams of wealth 7 (dhdrasdro) into the coffers of the State, 
both in way of presents the na^ara of later times and in that of levies on mer- 
chandise. As regards taxes on merchandise Kalidasa does not specifically refer 
beyond the fact that the traders yielded much wealth to the government. This 
could be only in the two ways mentioned above. The Arthasastrcfi details the 
taxes on items of merchandise, and so does the Sukranltfi. Customs and octroi 
duties may have formed levies on the inland trade and they would have been 
included in these on the merchandise for Kautilya 10 refers to these also. 


Enormous riches were obtained through conquests 31 . Conquerors overran 
the country and realized horses 12 , elephants 13 , heaps of gold 14 and other precious 
presents. 15 . 

1 Book. VJL Ch. 14. 

2 Book. I. Ch. 4. 
8 Ch. I, 311-12. 

4 ^:^W Ragbu-y XVII. 66. On the various undertakings of the State Kamandaka 
quoted by the commentator, has the following: 

*> IV. 13. 

6 SsJk., p. 219; Ra&H., XVII. 64. 

7 Vik.> IV. 13, text quoted ante. 

8 Book. V. Ch. II. 

9 Ch. IV. Sec. II. 
10 Book. V. Ch. II. 
u Cf. Ra&tt., IV. 
12 Ibid., IV. 70. 

18 Ibid., 83. 
14 Ibid., 70. 

d., 84; H^HKlpJI T55nfr etc., Mdl. y pp. 88, 94. 


Presents, technically known as Upayana*, came also from foreign powers 
and foiled adversaries who paid enormous tributes in money. Horses 2 , ele- 
phants 3 and heaps of gold 4 are referred to have been received as presents from 
conquered and befriended rulers. Elephants 5 and precious stones were received 
from the land of Kamarupa 6 . The Pulindas of the Vindhyas, we read, brought 
presents 7 to Kusa marching with his armies through the mountains. The pre- 
sents received 8 by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Agnimitra from the king of 
Vidarbha may be instanced to give an idea of the articles which were generally 
received by an overlord or an equal independent ruler. They included, besides 
other articles, a body of servants consisting mainly of accomplished girls, costly 
jewels, vehicles, such as elephants, palanquins, chariots, horses, etc. These 
may be taken as an income of the king as against that enumerated above as 
income of the State. It may be mentioned here that we read of similar articles 
of presents received by Samudra GuptA during his conquests 9 . Another occa- 
sion on which presents were received by the king was his travel in the country- 
side when he was brought visually before his loving subjects 10 . 

"Lapse of Property to the Crown 

Last, but not the least source of income was the lapse of the property of a 
deceased citizen to the treasury of the Crown in the absence of a male heii. A 
document containing all information regarding such a case as one described in 
the Sdkuntala^ Act VI, was prepared by the Minister in charge of the department 
and sent to the king for his perusal and sanction for attachment 11 . Large fortunes 
may have in this way lapsed to the Crown. 

Payment in Cash or Kind 

Revenue could be paid either in cash or kind. The reference to one-sixth 
of the land produce as land revenue renders it clear that it could be paid in kind. 
It could be paid in cash as well. In the report of the Minister there is a refer- 
ence to the 'calculation of a collection of treasury 12 / i.e. revenue received from 
various quarters. The counting of money may point to the payment of revenue 
in cash or to an auditing of accounts of the revenue received in both cash and 
kind. Octroi duties and levies on merchandise, etc., may have been paid in cash. 

*., IV. 79> XVI. 32, IV. 84; Mai, pp. 88, 94. 

2 Rjaghu., IV. 70. 

3 Ibid., 83. 
* Ibid., 70. 

6 Ibid., IV. 83. 

6 Ibid. 

7 Ibid.,XVL 3 2 V ^ ^ 

8 JJ^ItiKlfui <<Hlft U^Hlft fekM^lR+l^jfasS HftviH^MI^H'l^ Mai., p. 88 (referred to 
again in Ibid,, p. 94). 

9 Allahabad Pillar Inscription. 


11 p. 219. 

12 nji^i 1 ^ 4|UMT Ibid, 


We find mention of gold coins (Suvarna) made by Kalidasa in his writings as we 
shall see later. 

The end of Revenue 

Taxes (ball 1 } were levied and revenue realized from the people for their own 
benefit. Their realization never contemplated the personal comforts of the king. 
The budget of the State was so adjusted that the people derived benefit 
(pr'ajdndmevabhfityarthatri) from it in a thousand ways. The sun draws water from 
the earth, affirms the poet, only to restore it to her a thousand times as much. The 
king no less a benefactor, must act in the manner of the sun 2 . The degree to which 
this theory was actually put in practice is not quite evident and we may suppose 
that it may have differed with the types of kings, despotic or benevolent, or with 
the strength or weakness of ministers asserting in the popular cause. The re- 
ference is perhaps made to the various works of public utility on which the re- 
venues were mostly spent. 


There were several items of expendituie as well. Most of the public works 
were charged on the income. The administration, caprices of the kings, sala- 
ries of officials were all outlets of expenditure. Officials of the State drew re- 
gular salaries and we have one chapter of the Arthasdstra* devoted to the dis- 
cussion of the Civil List. The king himself has been indirectly referred to in 
a similar context as drawing a vetana*. This is in accordance with Apastamba^ 
who says that the king's salary must not exceed that of the Amatyas or Gurus 5 . 
Of other officials receiving monthly salary we have direct evidence regarding 
the teachers of fine arts 6 and Purohita 7 . If the latter was a me mber of the Council 
of Ministers he must have drawn a huge pay as mentioned Ijy Kautilya 8 . 

Kings Ownership in Land 

The king's right to the sixth portion of the produce of land, exercised un- 


The government treasury was rich and means were adopted to fill it, for it 

., I. 18. ^ 
f *r ^ 



II &**, XVII. 66. 

5 'MH^MJ*H HlTd*!^ Dbartxasutra, II. 9, 25, 10. 

6 ffe ljrr 5drKHH^I*{ MS/*, P- 17- 

7 sftrrr Trf^raff ^lf^i**i ibid., p. 87. 

8 Arthatistra* Book V. Cb. 3. 


was considered one of the most important limbs 1 (anga$) of the State. It had its 
own employees and keepers 2 . We read of wealth being carried by hundreds 
of mules (j>am) and camels 3 (ustrd) from the royal treasury, actually counted at 
fourteen crores 4 of coins in one case. 


The age of Kalidasa witnessed extensive trade and commerce both by land 
and sea for which the existence of an advanced and elaborate system of coinage 
has to be presupposed. The revenues except that from land itself, as has been seen 
above, were mostly paid to the government in terms of cash, and the Minister 
for Revenue received from the various quarters of the empire the collection of 
treasures which he counted 5 The counting of fourteen crores 6 of wealth itself 
cannot yield any sense unless we understand it in terms of coins. Then, besides, 
we find reference in the writings of Kalidasa to niska 1 and suvarna* which were 
the current coins of his times. It may be noted that the latter circulated in the 
currency of the Imperial Guptas 9 . The Amarakosa^ equates niska with a dtndra 
or Dinarius of the Romans. Suvarna was a coin of gold, generally sixteen 
mashas in weight. It seems to have been the legal tender of the age. Kalidasa 
mentions no other coins except those made of gold, and consequently, we 
cannot gather directly from his writings whether silver or copper coins were 
also recognized as the legal currency of the land. We know from the coins 
of the imperial Guptas, however, that they were current in various types and 
were of gold, silver, copper and alloy 11 . 

Grant of Land 

In this very context it will be proper to make a reference to the govern- 
ment grant of land to Brahmins whicbTthe poet mentions 12 . Such villages as 
were granted to them showed signs of Brahmanical possession in the form 
of the yfipas^* or sacrificial posts to which animals were tied. It may be added 
that Kautilya 14 also advises such a grant. The grants by the Imperial Guptas 
and other dynasties of such villages which we corne across in epigraphical 
records are too many to be recounted here. 

1 Ragbu., I. 60; Cf. Amarakosa. 

2 Ibid., V. 29. 

8 l HTl5qifl ^mqif^aii Ibid,, 32. 
4 Ibid,, 21. 

6 $3k., p. 219. 
Ragl*. 9 V. 21. 

7 KM., II, 49; Mai., p. 88. 

Ma/., p. 88. 

9 E. H. I., pp. 328-29. Also Cf. Catalogue of Gupta Corns. 

^ ft*fl**n 

10 *m$ *tl% *pfat t^O^HH I *faTC ^ ft*fl**n Quoted by the Commentator. 

11 T/iW5? J. Allan: Catalogue of Gupta Coins. 

#-> I. 44 IMdT *ftPl*KI 1^*^11 Ibid., XVI. 25 


I- 44- 

14 ArtbaJ&stra, Book, IL Ch. I. 


The Army 

The poet has referred at several places to the traditional four columned 1 
army 2 , namely, the infantry 3 , cavalry, 4 chariots 5 and elephants. 8 But the refer- 
ence to the chariots is only traditional because they, as a means of warfare, had 
become extinct long before the time of Kalidasa. He alludes to the above divi- 
sions of the army to describe very ancient warfare, the rest three of course re- 
mained the means of fighting in India for a very long time after the poet. The 
poet has added to the traditional four divisions of army a fifth division, that of 
a fleet of warboats 7 . Countries inhabiting the sea coasts mainly depended upon 
their squadrons of ships for their defence (nausddhanodyatdn). The people of the 
lower Ganges, in the delta formed by that river, defended themselves by means 
of their boats 8 . Particular countries utilized * particular armies, of horses, 
elephants or boats as they suited them. The Persians 9 and Greeks, 10 for example, 
used cavalry, the people of Kalinga 11 or Orissa elephants and those of the lower 
Ganges 12 ships. 

Kinds of Soldiers 

The poet refers to the traditional six kinds of forces 13 or soldiers. He does 
not, however, mention them specifically. But on the strength of the Amara- 
&ofa u 9 quoted by the commentator, the same may be enumerated and explained 
in the following manner: i. Maul as or hereditary soldiers of the king; these 
have been referred to in the Sukramti^ also; 2. Bhrtyasor those paid by the king; 

3. Suhrts or those who belong to the allies or are well disposed towards him; 

4. Srmis or forces furnished by the trade guilds in the State; the Mandasor 
Pillar Inscription refers to a few members of a Sreni or guild as skilled in the science 
of archery and valiant masters of the military art 16 ; 5 . Dvisads or the forces of 
the kings inimically disposed towards his enemy; and 6. theAfaw&asot the fores- 
ters. These last are cruel, rapacious and hardy, and therefore, best suited to lead 
an attack 17 . 

-, IV. 30. 

2 3m Ibid., IV. 32 ^rr 30, HdlfVfl 82, VII. 59, XL 52; <&%*$ Ma!., p. IT. 

3 Tfa: <TCTfa &aghu., VII. 3 6. 

4 qr^T^r: srererrsR": Ibld -> IV - 62, 71; ^Ml* Mat., p. 102; R^., vn. 36. 

., I. 36, 39> 40, III. 42, IV. 30, 82, 85, VII. 36; Vik.> I. 5. 
r., IV. 29. iFSRfTEFT 40, VI. 54, VII. 36 

iv. 36, 31. 

8 ibid., 

Ibid., IV. 62. 

10 Mai, p. 102. 

11 fcgfo., IV. 40. 
" Ibid., IV. 36. 

18 Ibid., IV. 26, XVII. 67. 

14 tfta WF: $<*ift feq<*ldfo*MH ^id., IV. 26 (comment). 

* 5 Ch. IV. Sec. VTI. 

18 Verses 16 and 17. 

17 Hit., in. 96; Kam. N/7/,, VIII. 23. 


Elephants, which made up one of the most important columns of the Indian 
army, were caught by the officers of the State from preserved forests 1 . Kautilya 
speaks of their great utility 2 and mentions Kalinga as one of the places from where 
they were mostly brought 3 . Kaiidasa, as we have already seen, associates ele- 
phants with the countries of Kamarupa 4 and Kalinga 5 , the dense forests of which 
must have yielded large herds of them. Refractory elephants were held up by 
means of chains on their feet 6 . Horses were equally favoured. Pointed men- 
tion is made of the excellent breeds'of horses licking salt 7 got from the countries 
of Vanayu 8 , i,e Arabia, and Kamboja 9 . Arabia is well known for the excellence 
of its steeds. The ArthatdstrcP^ also refers to Vanayu horses. Kaiidasa speaks 
of horse stables and of a particular speed 12 , perhaps gallop, of horse. 

A comprehensive list of war implements can be made from the writings of 
the poet. We find very frequent references to astra and fastra which the Sttk- 
rariiti explains as two distinct kinds of weapons, The former, it-says, is one which 
is thrown or cast down by means of charms, machines, or fire, while the latter is 
any other weapon, for example, sword, dagger, etc l;i . The following offensive 
weapons 14 have been mentioned by him; dhanus^ and bana 1 *, jfi/a 17 , trisula, sakti 1 *, 
) parajtt, cakra SL 9 as/ 22 , bhindipala, parigha*^^ mudgara^ y hala, 

u., XVII. 66, XVI. 2. 

2 ArthaSastra, Book II. Ch. 2. 

3 Ibid. 

tRagktt., IV. 83. 
5 Ibid., 40. 

Ibid., 48, *3Nn?T V. 72. 

ii Ibid., V. 73. 

9 Ibid., IV. 69. qfle|ij[i|e>6 Ibid., 70. Kamboja has been referred to by the Arthafastra> 
Book II. Ch. 30, also as yielding fine horses. 

10 Book II. Ch. 30. 
u <ICTrt$ V.73- 

12 Ibid., IX. 55. 

13 Ch. IV. Sec. VII. 381-82. 
"qiqir 'Ragbn. 9 VII. 5^ 5 59- 

"Ibid, II. 8, VII. 56, XL 40, 43, 46, 72, IV. 62. 

"Ibid., II. 31, IH. 53, 55, 56, 57, 59, o, 64, IV. 77, V. 55^ VII. 38, 49, 59> IX. 72, XL 29, 
44, XII. 96, 103. XV. 24; Ku., III. 2*7; Vik., p. 127. 
"R^*.,XV. 5. 
Ibid, XII. 77. 

19 Ibid., IV. 68, XIL 79, XV. 22. 

20 Ibid., XL 78. 

21 Ibid, VII. 46. 
* Ibid, 68. 

a* Ibid, XII. 72. 

* Ibid., 73. 

" Ibid, IX. 62, XI. 29. 


bhalla l y gadd*, brahwdstra*, gandharvdstra* or mohandstra* slings,* sataghnt, 1 
khadga* y and kutaSdlmah* \ These were mostly the offensive weapons with 
which the army was equipped. The poet refers to the use of most of these 
after they have been enchanted 10 or poisoned. 11 These may now be explained. 
Dhanus was made of a long flexible rod the ends of which were joined with 
a string called jjd^ Kautilya refers to bows made of tala (palmyra), of capa (a 
kind of bamboo), of daru (a kind of wood), and Srnga (bone or horn respectively 
calldd karmuka, kodanda, druna, and dhanus 13 . It may be noted that the poet men- 
tions all the above kinds of the bow except the druna but without distinction. The 
Arthatdstra likewise mentions bow strings as made of murva (Sansviera Rox- 
burghiana), arka (Catotropis gigantea), sana (hemp), gavedhu (Coix Barbata), 
venu (bamboo bark), and snayu (sinew 14 ). Hands marked with scars of the bow 
string were considered the sign of a great and tried warrior 15 . Dhanurwda was 
one of the Upavedas and contained the science of warfare and the use of the bow 
and arrow. It was one of the items of study for the prospective soldier 17 . Arrows 
were of various kinds made of long cane or reed sticks with heavy and sharp 
ironpointed 18 blade-heads and feather- tails. "The edges of arrows/' says the 
Arthasdstra, "shall be so made of iron, bone or wood as to cut, rend or pierce." 19 
The following sorts of arrows have been mentioned by the poet: one with the 
feather of a bird called kanka^ or crow, and another with one of peacock 21 ; a third 
kind was a long column-like 22 arrow, a fourth bore the form of a snake 23 , a fifth 
had a point like the crescent moon 24 and a sixth that of an eagle 25 . Then there 
were arrows which formed a halo of radiating light as they were shot 26 . There 

1 Ibid., IV. 63, VII. 5 8, IX. 66. 

2 Ibid., VII. 52. 

3 Ibid., XII. 97. 

4 Ibid., VII. 61. 

5 Ibid., V. 57. 

Ibid., IV. 77. 

7 Ibid., XII. 95. 

8 Ibid., VII. 51. 

9 Ibid., XII. 95. 
10 Ibid., V. 59. 

fok, vi. 9. 


13 Arthatdstra, Book II. ch. XVIII. 

14 Ibid. 

15 Ratf*., XL 40. 

16 Vik., p. 128. 


19 Book II. ch. XVIII. 
10 ILfjte., 11/31. 
Ibid., III. 56. 

Ibid., 53. 
28 Ibid., 57. 
24 Ibid., 59. 
26 Ibid., 57; cf. ?T5cW SR^f XVI. 77. g<omi<mlHqf Ibid., III. 60. 


were those that bore a golden hue 1 and those again which had their points like 
the blade of a razor 2 (ksurapra). These last have been referred to by the Su- 
kramtl as well, These were high to the navel and had the lustre of the moon 8 . 
There were arrows or weapons which could pierce through an armour 4 . Sol- 
diers of taste and position had their arrows inscribed with their names 5 or mono- 
grams 6 . The following example of such an inscription bearing the name of the 
owner may be quoted: "(This) arrow, a destroyer of enemies' lives, pertains to 
the bowman, prince Ayus, the son of UrvaSI and Ada." 7 Arrows were kept in 
a quiver 8 . 

Sula was a pike and trisfila a trident. They were very like a spear or javelin. 
The difference between the two seems to have been that of blades. The former 
possessed only one blade point while the latter was furnished with three such 
points which had branched off like a fork. Both of these are known to the Artha- 
sdstra which classes the former among weapons with edges like a plough-share 
(halamttkhani 9 ) while the latter among movable 'machines 10 . Sakti was a spear or 
javelin commonly used by a car-warrior. Made of iron it was plated with gold 
and adorned with bells. 11 It has been described in the }Lamayanai& furnished with 
eight bells, as giving out a frightful yell, as made full of art and guile by the wily 
Maya, as sure of aim, as destructive to the enemy's life, and as flying rapidly and 
leaving behind it a fiery track. It has been mentioned in both the Allahabad 
Pillar Inscription as well as the Arthatastra. The latter classes it with halamikhdni^ 
and the commentator explains it as "A metallic weapon four hands long, and 
like the leaf of karavtra and provided with a handle like a cow's nipple." 13 Vajra 
was a thunderbolt, a kind of club made of iron. 14 Parasu was the battle axe. It 
has been classed by theAr/Aafas/ra t vrith the razor-like weapons 15 and the Allahabad 
Pillar Inscription of Samudra Gupta refers to it. Cakra was the discus and had 
diagonal bars in the middle and poiated projections on the periphery. The points 
of these projections were sharp like razor blades 16 . Kautilya 17 and Sukra, 18 like 

1 Ibid., 64. 

2 Ibid., IX. 62, XL 29. 

8 Sukraniti, ch. IV. Sec. VII. 427. 
4 TOT*fc *rpj$: Ibid., VII. 59. 

6 HHHR$" flW* R^#., III. 55. ^FTOTtt^ HXfTOil ii^Pncf ^T^nT^f: ^rarcj: Ibid,, VII. 38. 
Ibid., XIL 103: Ktt., Ill, 27; VtJk., p. 127. 
6 ^RprfNlf( *TR R*<gfaf., HI. 55. 

fl aisi^ii^ II Vik.) V. 7. 
30, VII. 56. 
9 Book, II. ch. XVIII. 

10 Ibid. 

11 Mahabbarata, VII. 106, 129. 

18 Ibid. 

14 Ibid., (Commentator), 


16 Indo Aryans, Vol. I. p. 312. 

17 AribqrZstra* p. 102. ** $uhranitisara> p. 237. 


Kalidasa, regard it as a razor-like weapon, and, according to the latter, it was six 
cubits in circumference. The former places them among razor-like weapons. Ac- 
cording to VaiSampayana it is a sort of circular disc with a quadrangular hole in 
the middle 1 . A si was a long sword. Ehindipdla from all accounts 2 seems to have 
been a heavy rod thrown against the enemy like a missile. Its special work was 
'battering, cutting, breaking, dealing strokes like thofie of the laguda* or stick. 
Both asi and bhindipdla have been mentioned in the Allahabad Pillar Inscription 
and the Arthaidstra^ in the latter, with slight variation (asiyasti, perhaps a longer 
kind and bbifidivala). Kautilya classes bhindivdla among hdlamukhdni!* 'Parigha* 
was a club studded with iron-spikes. 7 Mudgara was a staff-hammer of iron. It 
has been classed by the Arthasditra with the movable machines. 8 Hala 9 like the 
plough-share, was an equally heavy Weapon and must have been used in very 
early times. Bhalla was the spear or javelin-Jike weapon called bhdldin the Hindi 
vernacular. This name was also borne by a kind of arrow 9 because of its simi- 
larity in shape. Gadd was a club made of iron. It has been enumerated by the 
Arihasdstra as one of the movable machines. 10 Brahma sir a was a missile never 
missing its object (amogha). It has been described as appearing like the body of 
the great serpent (Sesa) wearing the ring of his formidable hood with its blazing 
points being divided into ten splinters in the sky 11 . Gdndharvdstra or Mohandstra 
was supposed to be a 'prayoga' or hypnotic practice causing sleep. 'Prayoga' 
and 'Samhara' signified the shooting or the thrusting back into the quiver of an 
arrow. Prayoga means repetition of a certain mantra to endow the arrow with 
a peculiar virtue which enables it to assume a particular form or to 
bring about a certain result; while samhara the repetition of the counter 
mantra which -takes away from the arrow the 'peculiar virtue it was 
endowed with and it becomes again an ordinary arrow. The initiation in this 
, prayoga was effected by making the hero sip water with his face turned to- 
wards the north and then accept the mantra. Slings were also used in warfare 
and Kalidasa credits the mountaineers with much skill in throwing stones with 
slings 13 . Kautilya 14 refers to three classes of these, viz,, 'Yantrapdsdna^ Gospana- 
pdsdna and M/tstipasdna. Sataghrii is classed by some among immovable machines 
killing a hundred persons at a single discharge as the etymology of the word sig- 
nifies. But most probably it was a club pierced with innumerable sharp iron 

1 Opperfs Weapons. Army Organization, etc. 

2 /. A. 0. S., XIII. p. 290; Rrf/#,, pp. 1382, 1403; Arth.y p. 101; Opport. y p. 13. 

3 Agni Purana., p. 405. 

4 Book.,II.'ch.XVIIL 

5 Ibid. 

6 MP<H: M Ton fdHl Amarakofa quoted by the commentator. 

7 Commentator. 

8 Book II. XVIII. 

9 Raglw., IV. 67. 

10 Book II. ch. XVIII. 

11 Rig/fa., XII. 98. 
"IbiA.V. 59. 

13 Ibid., IV. 77. 

" Arthatistra, Book II ch. XVIII. 


spikes all round its surface, as the commentator explains, and it resembled the 
KutafdltMali of Yama as tire poet suggests through the simile. KutaJd/wa/i, lite- 
rally, is the silk-cotton tree containing innumerable thorns on its surface but 
it was also the name of the particular arm of Yama 1 , the god of death. Kautilya 
classes Sataghni among the movable machines and the commentator explains it 
as "A big pillar with an immense number of sharp points on its surface and 
situated on the top of a fort wall 2 ." Kbadga, lastly, was a short sword. 

Of the defensive weapons we read of the coat of mail 3 , helmet 4 and steel 
gloves 6 protecting the body above the legs and below the neck, the head and 
the arms respectively. Of these the first two have been mentioned by the 
ArthaSdstra* and the first by the SukrariitP. The stern days of warfare made 
the use of an armour necessary for the soldier, and this is why we find frequent 
mention of them in the writings of the poet. The strength to bear an armour 
was the sign of the beginning of youth 8 . 

Other Equipments of the Army 

The army was supplied with other equipments besides weapons which were 
banners and ensigns 9 , tents 10 and instruments of music 11 . Banners were the colours 
of the army and their number was so very preponderant that it derived one of 
its synonyms -patdkirii^ from them. It seems that different ensigns belonged 
to different heroes. They were of various patterns like those of the fish 13 and 
the eagle 14 (patrarathendrd). 

banners and Ensigns 

The pattern which bore fish for its ensign was so contrived that its 
mouth easily opened by the force of the wind, and, receiving the dust of 
the army, it looked like a real fish drinking the new turbid waters 15 . The 
reference to the eagle banner is remarkable as this happened to be the flag of the 
Imperial Guptas which we learn from their inscriptions and coins 16 . Besides 

*fWt tfflT Commentator. 
a Arthatistra, Book II. ch. XVIII. 

3 erf Ragbu., VII. 48, VIII. 94, ^ VII. 59; SR^T Vtk., p. 131. 

4 feR^iim l&agbu.^ IV. 64, VII. 49, 57, 66. 
6 $taiUM *fo*'5 P- "4' 

Book II. Ch. XVIII. 
7 Ch.IV. Sec. VII. 432-33. 

8 anrirt R^g^., vni. 94; K/^., p. 131. (^>CHI^:) 

t^srr R^^, m. 56, vn. 40, 60, ix. 45 , xn. 85, ^ v. 42, vn, 65; ^., i. 30, 

f., VI. 8. 

Ragb., V. 41, 49, 63, 73, VII. 2, XL 93, XIII, 79, XVI. 55, 73; Vik. 9 p. 121. 
u mf]U!ghr., VII. 38, 3^ 41, sr^T 63,64. 
"Aid., IV. 82. 

"fTOf^T: M^<^^>: Ibid.,XVni. 30. 

i* Ibid., VII. 40. 

16 Satnudra Gupta's -gold coins Standard type, Chandra Gupta IPs gold coins Archer 


choice ensigns of individual heroes, it appears that those peculiar to gods and 
heroes were also used 1 . They were sometimes made of China silk*. With 
regard to banners it would be well to quote below Hopkin's observation 3 : 

"The standard of a great knight is well spoken of as the upholder of the 
whole army. They (flags) are not, however, national, but individual ---- 
We have next to distinguish between ensign and banner. At the back of the 
car, ^ perhaps on one side, rises a staff, straight up high from the 
floor! The main staff, I incline to think, was in the back middle of the car 
tohile the little flags were on the sides. The staff bore the design at its top 
and apparently below the staff floated the flag. The flag pole was often the first 
objective point of the foes' arrows. When the symbol falls, the whole party 
falls into dismay and disorder. On the top of the staff was placed the dhvajd 
or ketu\ the former meaning sometimes the whole arrangement, the staff. 
image or banner; the latter, the symbol or banner alone. This image was the 
likeness of some animal, as a boar or flamingo. Thus the Vanara or apesign of 
Arjuna was laced on the top of the dhvajd^ and his car is usually termed 'the car 
with the ape standard/' 

Tents Camp 

The army on its marches encamped in tents 4 . The term used for a tent is 
upakaryd* which means a tent prepared for temporary residence. The row of 
tents that accommodated the army was known as sendniveSa*. Tents were gene- 
rally made of cloth 7 (patamandapa^ canopy or tent of cloth). Horses were kept 
in stables in huge tents of cloth 8 . The following is the description of a camp 
thrown into confusion by an elephant in rut: "The animal in a moment threw 
the whole camp into confusion which became empty of the chariot horses which 
broke through their reins and took to flight, in which the chariots were over- 
turned with their axles broken and in which the warriors were unable to protect 
their ladies 9 ." 

Instruments of Music of the War 

The marches of the army and the progress of battle were accompanied with 
music. The instruments of music which were ordinarily used during the marches 
of an army or the progress of a battle were the following: turycF*, the war-horn, 
dundubhi 11 , ghanta 12 , bells, and the conch 13 . That, last named, was blown to open 

> HI. 56. 

7- A. 0. J., XIII. p. 243 ff. 

* fi^te., V. 41, 49> <$3> VII. 2, XL 93, XIII. 79, XVI. 55, 
5 Ibid. 

Jbid., V. 49, VII. 2. 

7 Ibid., V. 73. 

8 ^T Md^Qq Ibid. 

* Ibid." 49. 

10 Ibid., VII. 38. 

u Ibid., X. 76. 

" Ibid, VII. 41 18 Ibid., VIL 63, 64. 


and end war* But at the end it was blown only by the victor. 1 
Women in Army 

From a solitary reference 2 by Kalidasa it appears thaj: women also 
accompanied the army in its marches. He clearly mentions that these were 
women companions of warriors. 3 In this -regard he is supported by Kautilya 
who says that women with prepared food and beverage should stand behind 
uttering encouraging words to fighting men. 4 

There was a particular military ceremony which was performed in the 
army and was known as Vdjinirdjand* It was performed by the king or the 
general on^he ninth of ASvina or on the eighth, twelfth or the fifteenth day of 
the bright half of Kartika, before taking the field. It consisted in the general 
purification of the king's Purohita, the ministers and all the various component 
parts of the army, together with the arms and implements of war, by offering 
oblations to the sacred fire, waving lights before idols, etc. and reciting the sa- 
cred mantras. Vdji y it may be noted, stands for both a horse and an elephant, 
and the ceremony, Vdjinlrdjand, is so called because the lustration of the horses 
and the elephants is its essential part. 6 


Battles were generally fought in especial martial arrays called vyfihas 1 of which 
there were several kinds. A vyuha was a position in which a general drew up 
his army after ascertaining from due consideration of circumstances what would 
be the most advantageous position. When the actual battle began and the 
four parts of the army faced the enemy, the infantry fell on foot soldiers, the 
warrior in the chariot on one fighting in the car, the horseman on the rider of 
horse, and the elephant rider on one on elephant. 8 The morality of battle ex- 
pected a soldier never to strike again a fallen foe. 9 

An Archer in Action 

We have an instance in the JLaghuvamsa of an archer in action. 10 He was so 
quick in operation, says the poet of an ideal soldier, that he was seen putting 
neither the right nor the left hand into the mouth of the quiver. To an observer 
it seemed that the arrows flying from his bow were not taken from the quiver 
by either of his hands, but that the bow-string itself, produced them as it were, 
One of his hands held the frame of his bow and the other pulled its string. The 

1 Ibid. 63. 
a Ibid., V. 49. 
8 Ibid. 

4 ArtbaSastra> Book X. ch. 3. 
" Ragbu., IV. 25. 

RagfavaarJa by N G. Nandargikar, Note. 
., VII. 54. 

T srarnr ibid., 47. 



left and right hands were used respectively for the purpose by ordinary archers, 
but an exceptionally skilled archer could also hold the frame by his right hand 
and pull the string with his left, which act was technically called savyasdcitva}- 

^Postures in Fighting 

On the term dlidha* used by Kalidasa, Mallinatha quotes a lexicon 3 according 
to which there are five postures which archers assume when fighting of which 
it is one. Altdha is one in which the right foot is advanced and the left is 
bent back. 4 Vallabha mentions eight such postures, 5 


The discipline among the Ksatriyas had reached a high standard. The 
boy of a Ksatriya, who was expected to become a soldier in due course, was 
trained from an early age. In fact his training as a soldier commenced as soon 
as he grew strong enough to draw the bow. The idea of protection was con- 
sidered implied in the very epithet of a Ksatriya.* And how could he protect 
the people without his bow? Therefore it was that a true Ksatriya never parted 
with his bow and arrow and that is why we find the son of Pururava saluting 
his father with his bow placed between his hand folded for the purpose of doing 
obeisance. 7 The vast army, living upon war, 8 had a perfect training in the art 
of throwing missiles. It may be noted that the soldiers relished wine and 
drank deep. 9 

The entire army was the charge of a Commander-in-chief, Senapati. 10 When 
the king 11 or the heir-apparent 12 led the army in person he assumed the office of 
the field marshal. 

Envoys and Espionage 

Kalidasa refers to envoys in the word duta Kautilya 1 * gives an elaborate 
account of the duties of an envoy. Duta was a diplomatic officer sent to the 
court of a foreign power to safeguard his master's interest and to gather all the 
requisite information of the strength and weakness of the foe and transmit it 

1 Ibid., VII. 57. 

2 Ibid., III. 52. 

T: M Yadava. 

4 Ibid. 

5 Vallabha's comment on the woid. 

(Different reading) Vik., p. 127. M. R. Kale's edition. 

T: Ragfa., XVII. 62; ^HUifH: Ibld 

9 Ibid., IV. 42, 56. 

10 Mal. 9 p. u; SaJk., pp. 63 ff. 
U 2R^*., IV. 

12 Ibid., V. VII. XVI. 31-32. 

13 Mai., p. 88. 

14 drtbaSSstnit Book L ch, 16. 


to the home government. We read in the Mdlavikdgnimitra of an envoy 1 sent 
to the court of Agmmitra by the king of Vidarbha with numerous presents. 

The poet alhides to the system of espionage in an unmistakable language. 
He calls spies 'rays of political light 2 - and speaks of a certain king that nothing 
in his 'territory was unseen by him who threw rays of political light in the shape 
of spies all over the country. 3 ' Sleeping at the proper (scheduled; time the king 
was 'kept awake by spies who were ignorant of each other's office and especially 
deputed to move among enemies and friends. 4 ' The spies (cara, apafarpa, 
pranidhif were employed as secret agents to gather information of importance 
in enemy's territory and report to the government. Kautilya 6 and the Sukra- 
mtP deal in detail with the department of the spies and the Mauryan adminis- 
tration actually ran an elaborate system of spies. 8 

The spies may have worked under the direct control of the envoy as has 
been mentioned in the Arthasdstra? This department was naturally the charge 
of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. 

Release of Prisoners 

The release of prisoners on important occasions was an established custom. 
Such an occasion was the birth of an heir 10 to the kingdom. On the custom of 
liberating prisoners on the occasion of the birth of a child Vallabha quotes the 
following: "On the consecration of an heir-apparent, the birth of a son, or 
on the successful extermination of a conspiracy the liberation of prisoners should 
be effected. 11 " The coronation of a king, as also perhaps that of the heir-appa- 
rent, was an occasion when a release of all sorts of prisoners, including cattle, 
beasts of burden and birds, thus making it even ideally perfect, was effected. 12 
On such an occasion even prisoners condemned to death 13 were pardoned and 
set free. Sometimes a release of "prisoners was effected for averting the bad 
influence of stars maliciously disposed towards the king. 14 

Festivals -were also suitable occasions for setting prisoners at liberty. The 
MdlavikdgniMitra 1 * furnishes us with an illustration of a release of prisoners on 
such an occasion by the king: "Servants, even though they have committed 

3. 88. 

t : K^gfa., XVIL 48. 
8 Ibid. 
*Ibid., 51. 
e Ibid., XIV. 13, 32, XVIL 48; X#., II. 6, 17. 

6 ArtbaSastra, Book I. ch. 12. v 

7 Chs. I and II. 

8 V. A. Smith: Early History oflndia> pp. 145-47. 

9 Book I. chs. 12 and 16. 

10 ^i^H^facT: *&aghu.> III. 20. 

j% ^T M<^^N*IJ? I (Perhaps from the Kamandakanttsara). 

, XVII. 19, 20. 

18 ~ ^ - 


p. 71. 


a crime, ought not to be kept in confinement on festive days-r-with this thought 
I got them set free and they came to bow down to me (in gratitude)/' The 
hour of victory, which made the capital gay and furnished the people with an 
occasion of excessive mirth and merriment, was such a festival 1 (Utsavadivasa). 
It is possible that the Aokan innovation of liberating prisoners on auspicious 
days 2 was continued under this very head of the Utsavadivasa. Kalidasa thus 
makes a mention of all such occasions (as a conquest and the birth of an heir- 
apparent) as Kautilya 3 enjoins upon a king as fit for liberating prisoners. 

Provinces and Political Divisions 

For the efficiency of administration the empire, or the kingdom, as the 
case was, wds divided among several provinces. Each province was made the 
charge of a Viceroy appointed ordinarily from among the royal kinsmen. Agni- 
mitra, the son of emperor Pusyamitra and the hero of the Mdlavikagnimitra, was 
such a Viceroy who held his court at Vidisa, the seat of the southern viceroyalty 
of his father's empire. Kalidasa, however, treats him as a sovereign king, free 
to declare war 4 and conclude peace, 6 assisted by a Council of Ministers. 6 
The poet designates him with almost godly epithets like Bhagavdn Vidifefvara? 
This looks like a peculiar case although the assistance of a Council of Ministers 
has been already referred to in the ASokan edicts. 8 


The frontiers 9 (pratyanta) themselves must have formed provinces. They 
were protected by strong fortresses 10 on the boundary line which were well guard- 
ed by garrisons. 11 The charge of these important forts was given to an officer 
called Antapdla^ It appears that such an important office was ordinarily held 
by a royal relation. We know that during the Maurya period the princes of 
the royal blood had the charge of provinces and frontiers. Asoka had been 
the Governor once of Ujjain and at another time of Taksasila 13 while his son 
Kunala that of Taksa&la. 14 The southern frontiers of Agnimitra in the 
Narmada valley were guarded by Virasena the king's brother-in-law, who 
was a half-brother to the Chief Queen Dharini. 15 It may be noted that the Artha- 

.' Ibid., p. 103. 

2 Pilar Edict No. V. 

3 ArthaSastra, Book II. ch. 36. 

4 Mal. y p. n. 

5 Ibid., p. 100, V. 13. 14. 

6 Ibid., pp. 100, 101. 

7 Ibid., Act. IV. 

8 Jaugada and Dhauli separate Rock Edicts and Siddhapura Inscription. 

9 Ragbu., IV. 26; $pxT Mdl.y pp. 9, 10. 

10 , p. 9; &&*., IV. 26. " Rg&K., IV. 26. 

. 10. 

18 Diyyavadana, p. 372; Mahavamsa, V. 46. 
14 Divyavaddna^ p. 430. 

16 Wm afft^T (EwlpiqqkO Ibid., p. 88, *rf^T ^TT TOfaOf WTtTT ft^ft TFT 
i Ibid., p. 9. 


fdstra also refers to the frontiers and their guards (antapdla) in the following 
expression: "There shall be constructed in the extremities of the kingdom 
forts manned by boundary guards (antapdld)> whose duty shall be to guard the 
entrances into the kingdom/' 1 

feudal States 

The feudatory states were free in matters of internal administration and 
formed with the provinces integral units of the empire. Numerous references 
to feudatory chiefs, as seen above, presenting themselves at the metropolis for 
winning the pleasure of their suzerain and following him in his tours of con- 
quest, as also for getting the titles to their respective states renewed, may show 
that even the dependencies served as provinces and their chiefs as so many Vice- 

"Further "Political Divisions 

Below is given a list of all the political divisions, both sovereign and sub- 
jugated, referred to by Kalidasa. The north-western and northern lands and 
beyond were held by the Parast&as 2 , Hunas^ and Kambojas* The north and north- 
eastern frontiers were occupied by the hill tribes of the Yjrdtas* and the Utsava- 
sdnketas* and the far north-eastern part (Pragjyotisa) was ruled by the king of the 
Kdmarfipas. 1 The 'eastern countries' (Paurastyari)* included Suhma? Vanga 
Utkala 11 and Kalinga, 1 * The south comprised of the country of the Malaya 
mountain 13 and of the Pdndyas^ the south-west boundary was inhabited by the 
Keralas 15 and the west was called Apardnta. Besides the above, the poet refers to 
the following as well: Magadha Vtdarbba Anga Avanti, 

iBookll/ch. i. 

2 MKJUUdgft ^ &^#-, IV. 60. 

8 <PT f arrercfafft Ibid., 68. 

4 Ibid., 69. 

6 Ibid., 76. 

6 Ibid., 78. 

7 Ibid., 83, 84. 

8 Ibid., 34. 

Ibid., 33. 

10 Ibid., 36. 

11 Ibid., 38. 

12 Ibid., 3 8, 40, VI. 53- 

13 qq*Umcq*>l Ibid., IV. 46. 

14 Ibid., 49, VI. 60. 

15 Ibid., 54. 

16 Ibid., 58. 

17 Raghu., VI. 20. 

38 Mai, p. 88, V. z; Ragfa., V. 39, 61, VII. 32. 

19 lUg&*., VI. 26. 

20 Ibid. ,3 2. 

*Ibid., 4 j. 


Kadambas?- the Uttarkosalas* and others (anyef, who, perhaps, were not important 
enough to require a mention. The geographical identification of the above has 
been attempted in the chapter on Geography. 

Immigration and Formation of Villages 

Kalidasa also refers in a verse 4 to villages formed by immigrants due to 
their rush from elsewhere on account of overpopulation (svargabhisyandavamanatri) 
and, to the founding of colonies (krtvevopanivesitdtn). While explaining the verse 
in reference Mallinatha gives it a political character by quoting a whole passage 
from the Arthaf astro* which used the very phrase abhisyandavamana of Kalidasa 
and thus precurses him. It runs as follows: "Either by inducing foreigners to 
immigrate (pardesdpavdhanena) or by causing the thickly populated centres of 
his own kingdom to send forth the excessive population (svadefdbhisyandavamane- 
navd\ the king may construct villages either on new sites or on old ruins (bhuta- 
purvamabhntapurvam va). 

'Efficiency of Administration 

With a benevolent ruler as the head of the government treating his sub- 
jects as his own children and working incessantly for their welfare, and with 
several departments carrying out the work of governance, the efficiency of admi- 
nistration was assured. The roads, the royal highways 6 , says Kalidasa, were 
secure, and caravans wandered at ease at home and abroad, over mountains, 
forests and rivers 7 . It may be that this description is ideal, for the poet himself 
refers in the Mdlavikdgnimitra to an attack on a royal party by forest robbers. But 
the incident occurs in a frontier forest the safety of which may not have been 
ensured due to the disputed nature of its possession. Ordinarily the roads of 
travelling were quite safe, which fact is amply borne out by the evidence of 
Fahien, who travelled in the Gupta dominions without any danger of molesta- 
tion. The fear of chastisement was so great that even the breeze, says the poet, 
did not dare disturb the garments of drunken women fallen asleep on half the 
way to the pleasure ground. 8 The king, taking a moderate course, suppressed 
all calamities 9 , whether earthly or heavenly 10 , through his political and religious 
actions 11 , and to surpass every thing he even announced to-his people to consider 
him in place of all the relations who were dead 12 . Thus affectionately he strove 

1 Ibid. 

2 Ibid., IX. I. XVIII. 7. 

3 Ibid. 

4 Ibid., XV. 29. 

3T PWNc Book II. ch. i. 

R^*.,XIV. 30. TRsfaft XVIII. 39; TT^TW JK*., VII. 3. 
7 Ragbu., XVII. 64. 
s Ibid., VI. 75. 
9 Af*/.,V. 20; R^#.,L 63. 

10 ^tat ^i^ u ii. . . .*iiH^Mi Raghu., i. 60. 

11 Ibid., XVII. 8 1. 


to win the heart of his subjects. And it is no wonder if the people became rest- 
less in the absence of their king and drank his person, as it were, through their 
eyes 1 on his return. Laxities of all kinds tended to disappear in the kingdom 
and nothing inauspicious 2 touched the shadow of the people. Crimes had been 
much lessened and mostly restricted to the uncivilized tracts of the forests 8 . 
The poet declares in the Bharatavakya of Ithe MdlavikdgmmitrcP". "As for any other 
object of wish on part of the subjects, such as the removal of public calamities, 
there is none that cannot be accomplished while Agnimitra is their protector 

~~^*., II. 73- 

* ibid., v. 13. 

8 M7/., V. 10 srcsfMfrwft Ibid., p. 99. 
4 Ibid., V. 20. 




The picture of society as disclosed in the works of Kalidasa is both graphic 
and varied. In the following pages is described the social life of the Indian people 
as reflected in the writings of the great Sanskrit poet. The description evidently 
is traditional, but since in this respect the Hindu community has hardly changed, 
it may as well reflect Kalidasa's own age. 

Structure of Society 

Hindu society was composed of the four traditional castes or Varnas 1 , viz, 
Brahmana, Ksatriya, Vaisya and Sudra. A fifth class, composed of the fowlers 2 , 
men living by net 3 , i.e. fishing 4 , Candalas, and the like, has also been mentioned. 
This class, as the ArthasdstrcP and the Sukraniti* say, lived outside the walls of 
the city. This fact has been attested to by Fahien also who says that when the 
Candalas entered the city they forewarned the caste Hindus of their approach by 
the sound of wooden sticks 7 . The various other foreign elements may also be 
classed with them. The three upper classes were technically known as Dvijcfiwt 
the twice-born, for the Upanayana Samskara or ceremony, which they underwent, 
was supposed to give them a second birth conferring upon them the status which 
they enjoyed, particularly over the Sudra, the fourth Varna. Himself a *non- 
transgressor of the established order' (sthiterabhetta)? the king was the 'protector 
of the Varnas' (Varndsramdndm raksita) and to him was entrusted the responsibi- 
lity of looking after the proper and righteous conduct of his people. It was in 
this capacity that the king merited the appellation of a 'charioteer* (niyantuh}, 
who drove the chariot of righteousness to which were yoked his own people 

ciudWJ ^g 
XIV. 67; fak. t p. 162. 

fe.,p. 56; frftlfiHH*'; R^g**-. IX. 53- 

r., XVIII. 12; cpf XV. 48; snrfat Jrf/i, V. 10; <TOfa*nm &&*., V. 19, 

I Ibid., p. 183; $&K Ibid., p. 182. 

5 Book II, ch. 4, p. 49. 

6 Formation of forts and bridges. 

7 Jarnes Legge: Fabicn's Rjecord of Buddhistic Kingdoms, p. 43. 

8 ft^f R^*-> V. 23. r*JcKdMfri|$l Ibid., IX. 76. 

9 Ibid. IIL27. 


whom he so led that they did not leave the righteous path even to the extent 
of a line 1 . 


People are thus described to have solemnly adhered to the con- 
duct of life recommended by the scriptures. Although laxities were not alto- 
gether unknown in the free, merry and aesthetic society of Kalidasa, for we have at 
least one allusion 2 in the Mdlavikdgnimitra to a General who was of a mixed-caste 
(varndvarah born of a woman of a lower caste), of a Ksatriya father and a Vaigya 
or a Sudra mother, nevertheless, the above was the ideal for the achievement of 
which the king strove with his people. Infringements of caste rules were 
rare and the king was always alert to put down the transgression (apacarab) of 
those rules 8 . The leaders of society were anxious to keep their blood pure 4 
and the transgressor was very severely dealt with. Kalidasa, who stands as a 
great supporter of the VarnaSramadhrama, comments applaudingly on the death 
punishment meted out to the son of a c non-twice born ascetic' by Rama, thus 
supporting the idea that a Sudra could not perform austerities 5 , for his duty was 
only to serve the three upper classes and his penances would mean a transgression 
of the caste rules. The vision of Kalidasa is indeed 'Brahmanical and he deli- 
berately repeats the condemnation of the }Ldmayana on the Sudra who threatened 
the security of the established order 6 '. ^ 

The highest of the three qualities (sattvd) was supposed to belong to the Brah- 
manas, the highest of the three castes, and the next to that (rajas) to the next lower 
caste, the warrior or Ksatriya caste, as it is clear from the words of Parasurama, 
now subject to the prowess of Rama: "You have indeed turned even the disgrace 
of my defeat into a favour on me resulting in excellent fruit, since you have removed 
from my nature the passions inherited from my mother and reduced me to peace- 
fulness, the proper quality of my paternal descent 7 /' The poet strikes at the ety- 
mological explanation of the root from which the word Ksatriya, the style of the 
second Varna is derived. It is indeed from 'the protection from harm' that the 
word Ksatra has originated and become prevalent in that sense in the world 8 . 

Caste and Vocation 

In ordinary course of life the four castes pursued their respective callings 
and nobody looked down upon the apparent low earnings of a despised profession, 
although, at times, we do find a mocking tendency in a boaster of a higher 
caste with regard to such a vocation. In the Abhijandna Sdkuntala we have 
such a reference where a fisherman having been attacked injudiciously on the 

* Ibid. I. 17. 

2 qviV-Ct W^tT Att/., p. 9. 

8 R^*,, XV 47, 48,49- 

4 MR: * Ibid -> L 6 - 

* Ibid., XV. 33- 

6 A. B. Keith: A History of Sanskrit Literature, p. 99. 

7 Ragtm., XL 90. 
IWd : ,ILsj. 


point of his calling by a guard, presumably from the K?atriya caste, retaliates in 
a proper manner boldly justifying the pursuit of his profession. The fisherman 
enunciates one of the most important propositions of the Hindu social structure 
and adduces the example of the Brahmanas. The pursuit of the different castes 
was supposed to be sahaja or born together, that which is enjoyed on account 
of one's birth. A Srotriya, who is a learned Brahmana well versed in the Vedas, 
cannot be heartless, yet he has to be cruel in the act of killing animals in sacri- 
fites, because that forms part of his sahajakarma. Similarly, the fisherman asserts, 
he follows his profession of catching and killing fish, not because he is naturally 
cruel of disposition, but because he has to pursue his sahajakarma 1 . The verse, 
embodying the sense of the above discussion, seems to assert that whatever the 
allotted actions may be they must not be abandoned. The caste of the fisherman 
has been alluded to as a c jati' which under the schedule of Yajnavalkya would mean 
a mixed caste. 

Of the four castes the most frequent reference is made to the two upper 
Varnas, the Brahmana and the Ksatriya. We learn that the wearing of the sacred 
thread had almost become a privilege 2 of the Brahmanas who were mainly re- 
cognized by their Upavita. The principal means of livelihood in case of a Brah- 
mana seems to have been his earnings through priesthood 3 (daksind} to which 
several references have been made by the poet. The principal duty of a Ksatriya 
was considered to be warfare. , A distinction has been made between the son of a 
pure and that of a mixed Ksatriya. The son of the former underwent all the cere- 
monies necessary for a twice-born. 4 A Ksatriya boy took his lessons in archery 5 
(dhanurvede) and saluted his elders by placing his bow, the principal sign of a 
Ksatriya 6 , between his joined hands 7 . This meant that a Ksatriya could put 
off his weapon under no circumstances. Of the VaiSyas also we read in terms 
of Naigamas 8 , Sresthi 9 , Vanija 10 and Sarthavahas 11 trading extensively by land and 

the Stages of Hindu Life 

The dsramas^ or stages of life, also four in number, divided the life of a Dvija 
into four stages, those of the Brahmacari' or the pupil, the Grhastha or the 

2 PT^TW^T^M^T ifaghu., XL 64. 

8 etc - -M#- pp. 33, 88. 

. 128. 

6 Ibid., p. 128. 

6 ;ffr ^ tflfgRr wq B^gfe., XL 64. 


Ibid,, IV 1 3. 
*,&*., p. 219. 
10 Mai., I. 17; p. 98. 

u "&aghu., i. s. 

o c in Ragfa., V. 19, VlIL 14, XIV. 67; $ak., p. 162. 


householder, the Vanaprastha or the forest-dweller, and the Sanyasi or the 
complete renouncer. Although the scenes attaching to the stage of renunciation 
described by the poet refer to a very ancient state of the Hindu society and it is 
not safe to generalize on this evidence that the four stages of life were actually* in 
practice. Kalidasa, in fact, could not imagine a life which did not consummate 
in the last stage of a dvi ja, that of sanyasa. His Raghu instals his son ip. his place 
and retires to a life of penance for "never indeed do those born in the solar-line 
continue to live as a householder in the presence of an able successor' 1 . Such 
a recluse put on barks of trees 2 and lived beyond the gates of a city 3 . This was 
the last airama 4 . The first, that of the Brahmacari, was occupied in the studies 
of the Vidyas, in case of Brahmana 5 , and in the practice of archery and study of 
the four Vidyas in that of Ksatriya 6 . After the period of study the brahmacarl 
was allowed to marry and enter on the life-stage of a householder 7 . Of all the 
four stages the stage of the householder was deemed the most important 8 for it 
fed all the rest of them. "The scheme of four stages", says Dr. Keith, "is in many 
ways perfectly adopted to Indian life, for it starves no side of a man's life 9 ." 
Hindus studying the various Vidyas in the stage of a Brahmacari, leading the life 
of comfort as a householder, practising asceticism in the old age ended their life 
in the last stage by means of Yoga and thus completed the allotted span of their 
existence 10 . This state of social life did exist, in howsoever crumbled a form, 
during the time of Kalidasa as is evidenced by his references which are both 
emphatic and frequent. 

The poet refers to a number of Samskaras which will be treated in the chapter 
on Religion. Here only one of them Marriage may be discussed as it is 
more of a social nature. 

Marriage, one of the Samskaras, was a necessary rite to be performed by 
a dvija. Every religious rite, even the everyday sacrifice to Agni, was to be per- 
formed jointly with the wife and hence Kalidasa emphasises her necessity for 
man, 'for the practice of religious duties in company 11 ' (sahadharmacarandyd) with 
her. The" stage of the householder j^grhasthaframa) was considered the most 
important 12 of the four aSramas, since it fed the rest of them, and therefore a brah- 
macari, who had acquired a knowledge of the fourteen sciences 13 , settled down 

Raghu., VII. 71. 

Ibid., VIII. ii. 

rTTlff[: Ik ld - 14- 
SRft Ibid. 

Ibid., V. i. flHMfa^H Ibid., 20. -cHfrfl^r Ibid., 21. 
OTqft Vtk., p, 128; also of. ^Hi^dfl: ^TR foram &%*., III. 30. 

*., V. 10. 

turn* 1^*1*1*11^*1 % Ibid. 

* A. B. Keith: A History of Sanskrit Literature > p. 98. 
10 ., I. 8. 

Ibid -> P- 26 ; ** VIIL 2 * *mnTHitW ibid., ^i; 

f Ibid., VI. 13. 

v. 10. 

Ibid., IH. 30, Ibid., V, 20; Ibid, zi. 


as a married householder. The negotiation of marriage was a concern of the 
family priest or at least of a Brahmana as, for instance^ we find the Saptar^is, 1 
a set ot Brahmanas, begging the hand of ParvatI from her father for Siva so 
graphically described in the Kumdrasawbhava. 

Types of Marriage 

t We read of four types of marriage referred to in the works of Kalidasa. They 
are as follows:, Svayamvara* or the self-choice of a husband; Prajapatya 3 , in 
which the father of the bride gave her away to the bridegroom after decorating 
her person with ornaments; GSndharva^^ in which the parties themselves nego- 
tiated their marriage without the knowledge or intervention of their elders, and 
in which no marital rites were observed; andyCr/ra 5 , in which the father accepted 
bride-money from the bridegroom. 

A very graphic description of Svayamvara is given in the sixth canto of 
the 'RMghuvamla which may be described below to point out the incidents of a 
marriage of free-choice, and which may serve also as a type. 


The guardian of the bride sent out invitations to kings to come in person or 
send their crown-princes to attend the Svayamvara 6 . Kings reached the city of 
the bride with their armies 7 where they were received by the host at the principal 
city gate 8 and were taken to the royal palace the entrance of which was decorated 
with auspicious articles like big vessels full of water 9 , (piirnakumbha). There 
assembled a host of personages to attend the function with jealous feelings, eager 
to win the hand of the bride. 10 But it is to be noted that due care was taken on 
the part of the arriving kings to ascertain whether the family of the king inviting 
them to attend the Svayamvara was worthy enough for their matrimonial connec- 
tion. 11 Dawn was announced to the sleeping royal guests by the bards of the host 
with panegyrical songs. 12 Later, the kings, bedecking their persons with 
attractive and agreeable attire, seated themselves on the costly thrones in the pic- 
turesque gallery of the arena of the Svayamvara, built for the occasion, reaching 
them by flights of steps. 13 A huge throng of citizens assembled to witness the 

ijfc f 1,31,65,78,79. 
2 R^.,V. 39, 64-76, VII. 13. 
* Ibid., VII. 13, 15-28; Ku., VII. 73-89. 
fc.,in, 20, Ibid., p. 259. 

, xi. 38. 

Ibid., 39. 

7 uwmmmti *rfof ibid., v. 40. 

' 8 mVH Ibid., 61, sp; 63. 
9 1 *- 1 *! W Ibid., 63. 


Ibid., 64. 

11 *<ni*Wii*ttft (qfa*w Ibid., 40. 

M Ibid,, 65. 

Ibid, VI. i. 


Svayamvara, and surveyed 1 the suitors. The Svayamvara was supposed to be 
presided over by Saci 2 . Now there appeared bards who recited the glory of the 
assembly of the princes, representing both the solar and the lunar races 3 . Then, 
when the sw^eet fragrance of the floating 'fume of burning sandal-wood of excel- 
lent quality, spread around rising above the banners 4 ' and auspicious 'trumpet 
sounds having extended to the end of the cardinal points swelled by the blowing 
of the conch 6 / the maiden princess, who was about to choose a husband 
($atimavard\ decked in wedding dress, took her seat ixx a palanquin, 
borne by men and looking beautiful by her train of attendants, entered 
on the 'royal road' built between the galleries 6 . Naturally all eyes were 
attracted to her, and kings who had betrayed their passion for her, began 
to draw her attention by various insinuations and meaning gestures 7 . A 
certain king, for instance, started turning round a pleasure lotus 8 , another 
began to set to its proper place the displaced garland 9 ; a third scratched the 
golden footstool with his foot 10 ; a fourth tore the Icetaka flower with his nails 11 ; 
there was another who started talking with his neighbour by bending a little 12 
and yet another was busy adjusting his crown 12 as though it had slipped off its 
proper place. 13 At last the chief of the attendants, the principal friend of the prin- 
cess and keeper of the entrance of the royal harem (Pratihararaksi), as bold as a 
man having full knowledge of the exploits achieved by, as also of the pedigrees of 
the kings, led the maiden princess from king to king 14 . Like the flame of a nightly 
moving torch the self-choosing maiden (patimvara) proceeded forth, and as she 
passed on rejecting and leaving the kings behind her, they turned pale and gloomy 
and wore a dim and dusky appearance like the buttress of a mansion on the royal 
highway when the torch had passed beyond it 15 . Then at last, she stopped in 
front of one whom she adored and considered equal to her status in family, 
beauty and youth (hthna kdntyd vayesd navena\ and who was endowed with excel- 
lent virtues (gunaisca), particularly with worthy humility, to make him her choice, 
for, indeed, a gem must necessarily be obtained by gold 16 . With modesty worthy 
of women she got placed through her companion (dhdtriharabhydfii) the long 
'garland of choice' round the neck of her chosen lord 17 , and thus ended the Svayam- 

1 Ibid., 7. 

2 Ibid., VII. 3. 
Ibid., VI. 8. 


6 Ibid., 9. 

6 Ibid, 10. 

'Ibid., iz. 

8 Ibid., 13. 

Ibid., 14. 
10 Ibid., 15. 
"Ibid., 17. 
"Ibid., 16, 
Ibid., 19. 
"Ibid., 20. 
Ibid., 67. / 
"Ibid., 79. 
17 TO^WUJIWN IWd*. VI. 80, cf. also ibid, 81, 83. 


vara amidst the resounding cheers of the citizens, who gave vent to their feelings 
through a unanimous utterance, unpleasant to the ears of the disappointed throng 
of kings 1 . 

It may be noted in this connection that in such a Svayamvara very naturally 
the choice may have been already made in the heart of the bride which was practi- 
cally given effect to in a legal way in the presence of a host of kings and specta- 
tors; for it is entirely inconceivable how the chief maid attending on the princess 
who was expected to be very clever should not have easily influenced the 
princess's mind in the choice of her husband. The practical display of the 
Svayamvara was meant, it appears, for the formal approval of the social authority 
unless it was marked by some feat of pr6wess which was a condition precedent 
to the winning of the hand of the bride. 

The Svayamvara thus over, the bride and the bridegroom proceeded to the 
palace under the shade of various auspicious decorations like arches, banners 
and other articles of beauty on the king's highway 2 . All windows of the house of 
citizens opening on the road-side were filled with faces, the ladies having hurried 
to them to have a look at the procession 3 . Then the bridegroom reaching the 
royal palace decorated with auspicious articles and paintings got down from the 
elephant that he mounted 4 . Now started the various ceremonies of the mar- 
riage proper which was performed in the manner of Prajapatya. It should have 
been described while dealing with incidents of the Prajapatya form of marriage 
but may be quoted here also for the purpose of clarity. 

The bridegroom was seated on a valuable lion-throne where he accepted the 
madhuparka mixed with other articles of puja, along with precious gems, and a 
pair of silken robes 5 . This was analogous to the present dvara-puja. He was 
led to the bride by the well-disciplined guards of the harem 6 . There, after 
receiving the puja, and the priest having worshipped the fire with oblations, 
the bridegroom was joined with the bride in marriage 7 . He accepted the hand 
of the bride 8 and the couple made rounds of the sacred fire 9 . The bride performed 
the laja-visarjana ceremony as instructed by the priest 10 . The oblation emitted 
forth an agreeable fragrance of the tender leaves of the garni tree and of the Maja' 
or parched rice 11 . The snatakas, royal kinsmen, i.e., the father or the guardian 
and unwido wed mothers with living children, in order of their respective ranks 
threw wet rice on the couple sitting on the golden lion-throne^ 2 . 

In the end the rest of the assembled kings were entertained with puja after 


1 Ibid., 85. 

2 Ibid., VII. 4. 

3 Ibid., 5-12. 
Mbid., 17 

5 Ibid., 1 8. 

6 Ibid., * 9 . 

7 Ibid., 20. 

8 Ibid., 21. 
* Ibid., 24. 

10 Ibid., 25. 

11 Ibid., 26. 
Ibid., 28. 



which they left for their respective kingdoms. The newly married husband also 
left with his wife taking with him the dowry on the completion of the marital 
rites 1 . It was no wonder if the disappointed kings confederated to revenge them- 
selves on a common enemy, and waylaid him 2 . The practice of Svayamvara 
obviously prevailed among the Ksatriyas, particularly the nobles and the kings, 
of early times. 


Kalidasa considers the Prajapatya as the best form of marriage and binds 
his principal deity Siva with his consort with the incidents of this very form in 
the seventh canto of the Kumar asambbtiva. In this form of marriage the father 
of the bride adorned his daughter with ornaments and gave her away to the bride- 
groom after the completion of the necessary rites as is enjoined by the Code of 
Manu, Sometimes the suitor through his agent approached the father of the 
bride and begged his daughter's hand in marriage. This was done at times in the 
presence of the bride herself as in the case of Parvati who blushed scarlet and na- 
turally diverted her attention to the counting of petals of the lotus which she held 
in her hand 3 . 

The following narration occurring in the seventh canto of the Yjtmdrasam- 
bhava gives a full account of the incidents of a Prajapatya marriage and its rites. 
The marriage referred to in this canto is that of Siva and Paravati. It is as follows: 

Preliminary 'Rites and the Bride's Decoration 

The father of the bride with his kinsmen made preparations for the marriage 
of his daughter on an auspicious date (titbi} 9 generally falling in the_Sukla-paksa, 
the bright-half of the lunar month 4 . The highway leading to the house of the 
bride was lined with flags, made of China silk and decorated with bright golden 
floral archest Friends and relatives of the bride embraced her and presented orna- 
ments to hex 6 . When the blessed hour of the Maitra muhtirta approached and the 
Uttaraphdlgum joined the moon women began the bride's toilet, the application of 
cosmetics, etc. Ladies who performed her toilet were required to be unwidowed 
dames, who had borne male children 7 . The bride was adorned with the dtirvd 
grass which was considered very auspicious, and she was given to wear a silken 
robe beneath her waist while she held an arrow in her hand 8 , perhaps only when 
the bride was a Ksatriya. Sandal oil and kalejaka were applied to her body and 
lodhra dust was besmeared over her person. Then she received another robe and 
was led by ladies to the bathroom facing the pavilion of four pillars 9 , which was 

1 Ibid., 29, 30. 
a Ibid., 31. 
3 #., VI. 84. 

4 1 *Rft faft ^n^lif^klNI^ Ibid -> VIL * ' 

6 Ibid., VII, 3. 
Ibid., 5. 

7 Ibid., 6. 

8 Ibid., 7. 
Ibid., 9. 


more like a chamber than an ordinary pavilion decked with pearls and paved with 
sapphires, while the sweet sound of the choicest music breathed around. In 
the bathroom women poured over her limbs streams of water from golden urns 1 ; 
and then after she had been arrayed in the fairest white costume 2 , she was led by 
chaste and unwidowed dames to a court with canopies. There they seated her 
on a veiK* with her face to the east 4 . They dried her body with incense and decked 
her hair with flowers. They crowned her temples with a chaplet of fragrant grass 5 . 
Then again her- face was painted in beautiful forms of leaves with white aguru 
mixed with yellow gorocana*. Her cheeks were dyed with, glowing saffron, or gorocana and lodhra dust; bunches ofjwa or barley were hung from her ears 7 , 
and tints were applied to her lips 8 . Her feet were dyed 9 and unguent was 
applied to her eyes 10 . Her neck and arms were adorned with gems and precious 
stones. Gold ornaments 11 were next put on by her, standing before an auspi- 
cious mirror 12 . Thereafter her mother decorated her with the golden dye of the 
nuptial line, and fastened the woollen-band 13 on her wrist. This kautuka-siitra, 
the auspicious thread generally dyed yellow, worn round the wrist by the bride 
is generally taken away on the third day after the conclusion of marriage. The 
fastening of the kautuka-sutra thus done, the bride worshipped the kula-devatd y 
the deity of the family, and then proceeded to the elderly ladies, in order of senio- 
rity 14 , to receive the blessings like one embodied in the following words: akhanditam 
prema labhasva patyuhMsy you obtain the undivided love of your husband 15 ! 
The buss and hurry was no less marked in the house of the bridegroom than 
in that of the bride. The bridegroom was also decked with articles 16 worthy of 
his station in life by the ladies of his family. He was anointed with cosmetics 
like angardga and adorned with jewels on the head, wrists, neck, arms and ears. 
He put on a silken shawl woven with the figures of flamingoes 17 , applied the 
tik mark of haritdla and manahsila 1 ^^ and then stood before a looking-glass 19 . 
The marriage party then marched to the house of the bride's father accompanied 

1 Ibid., 10. 

2 Ibid., 11. 

3 Ibid., 12. 

4 srnnr^t ibid., 13 

5 Ibid, M 
8 Ibid., is. 
7 Ibid., 17. 

iff Ibid., 18. 

9 Ibid., 19 
10 H>HI**iH Ibid., 20, 
11 Ibid., 21. 

13 Ibid., 23, 24,25. 

u Ibid., 27. 

i* Ibid., 28. 

16 JFHTSR Ibid., 30. 

"Ibid., 32. 

18 Ibid., VII. 33. 

"Ibid., 36. 


with auspicious music 1 . The bridegroom was accorded the honour of a king 
inasmuch as he was accompanied by attendants with an umbrella (atapatra) 
and fly-whisks 

Auspicious Decorations in Marriage 

On the occasion of marriage houses and roads through which the proces- 
sion of the marriage party passed were decorated with auspicious articles (mangala- 
samviddhdbhijp. The gates of the houses were decorated with pitchers full 
of water (purpakumbhcfi). Other articles considered auspicious were musk 
(mrgarocana); clay brought from places of pilgrimage and sprouts of dtirvd grass, 
etc 8 . The highways were decorated with arches painted with the figures of 
rainbow arches 6 and flags (dhvaja" 4 }. 

Marital RJtes 

The party of the relations of the bride, with their persons well-adorned, 
proceeded on elephants to receive the procession of the bridegroom. 8 The 
gates of the city were thrown open and flowers were strewn over the proces- 
sion. 9 Women climbed the roofs of their houses to have a look at the proces- 
sion. 10 The highway (patha) was decorated with flags and arch-ways under 
which the procession walked on receiving the auspicious aksata thrown over 
it. 11 The bridegroom was received and seated with due ceremony. Honey 
and milk along with rich gems and a pair of silken robes were given to him, 
while priests chanted the hymns. 12 At length he was led to the bride by 
well-behaved attendants. 13 The priest laid the hand of the bride on that 
of the bridegroom. 14 Now the symbols of Siva and Parvati, as presiding 
marital deities were formed and worshipped. 15 The couple then trod round 
the sacred fire thrice in solemn rite 16 and at the biddings of the priest the 
bride threw the parched grain into the fire in due order. 17 Thereafter the offi- 
ciating" priest blessed the bride and her spouse in the following manner: "This 
sacred flame is the witness of your marriage. Be a faithful husband and a true 

1 Ibid., 40. 
* ibid., 41, 42. 

8 ., VII. 16, X. 77; $ak.> p. 129. 

. 63. 
, VII. 4 
7 Ibid. 

* to., VII. 52. 
Ibid., 5 5- 
1 Ibid., 56. 
"Ibid., 63, 69. 
"Ibid., 72. 
w Ibid., 75. 
* Ibid, 76. 
Ibid., 78. 
"Ibid., 79, 80. 
"Ibid., 8 1. 


wife. 1 " The bridegroom addressed his wife: "Look up, gentle lady, do you 
see the brightness of the polar star ? Your faith must shine like that unchang- 
ing ray. 2 " And to it the bride replied: "Yes, I see 3 " (drstd). Here ended the 
Vedic rites and commenced the Laukika 4 ones. The couple was seated on a 
golden asana or seat, placed on a square vedt and the auspicious moistened grain 
was scattered over them. 5 Thus were concluded the rituals pertaining to the 
Prajapatya form of marriage. 

Consummation of Marriage 

After the ceremony of marriage was over the period of mirth and merri- 
ment commenced. Some sort of a dramatic performance was given by maids, 
who 'entwined expressive dance in graceful play/ and whose eloquent motions 
with an actor's art showed to the life the passions of the heart. These maids were 
accomplished in the vrttis like the Kaugiki. 6 The couple was then left alone 
to proceed to the bridal bower where a soft bed of flowers had already been 
prepared and where auspicious golden pitchers had been placed. 7 This last 
incident perhaps points out to the act of consummation of marriage. This 
practice is still current in Bengal. The night of consummation is called Suhdg- 
rdta in the U. P. In the narrative of the marriage given by Kalidasa the bride- 
groom and the bride started on an excursion of pleasure, 8 a honeymoon. 


The Gdndharva form of marriage was entirely an affair of love which con- 
summated in a union without the proposal of marriage. It proceeded entirely 
from free love and mutual inclination of a youth and a maiden, and was con- 
cluded with the mutual consent and agreement of the couple without consult- 
ing their relatives. It was then ratified as a/*// accompli under the Hindu law of 
factum Valet by the parents of the contracting parties as is clear from the follow- 
ing verse: "Here elders were not regarded by her; nor were the kinsmen con- 
sulted by you too. In a matter done singly by each, what should another say 
to either. 9 " This is the disappointed expression of one who feels for the folly 
of such a union as the Gandharva form of marriage sanctions. The Hindu 
rules of matrimony do not, in fact, approve explicitly of courtship. The prob- 
lem of marriage was thought to be very important and its grave responsibility 
was not to be left to the discretion of the young folk. This is why Kalidasa 
praises c a discreet daughter waiting for the consent of her father/ in the event 

1 Ibid., 83. 

2 Ibid., 8 5. 
8 Ibid. 

* Ibid., 88. 
6 Ibid. 

6 Ibid., 91. 

7 Ibid., 94. 

*Mirufl<HfrQ<*HH ^PT^T Ibid., VIII. i. 

V. 1 6. 



of her marriage who does not rush to contract a marital agreement of 'her own 
free-will. 1 Elders must help their youngsters in search of a proper match with 
their vast experience of the world for the way is too dark for individual experi- 
ments. This is why a suppressed reproach is implied by Kalidasa in the above 
expression of Gautami 'ekkakkame wa charie bhandml kirn ekkamekkassa? Mis- 
takes by youngsters, indeed, would be too many and mistakes in marriage among 
Hindus are irretrievable for they result in an extinction of life in society. 
"Therefore," observes Kalidasa, "a union, especially when in private, should 
be formed after careful examination. Friendship towards those, whose hearts 
are unknown, thus turns into hostility. 2 " Matrimonial connection should al- 
ways follow a careful scrutiny of the other party ; especially when such an agree- 
ment is secretly entered into, this examination becomes all the more obligatory. 
Otherwise friendship turns into enmity in the case of persons whose hearts are 
not previously acquainted with each other. 

We are not sure if the Gandharva marriage was permissible at the time of 
Kalidasa. The custom had become long obsolete and from the above injunc- 
tions of the poet himself it is evident that it was at least not prevalent during 
the time of the poet, except, perhaps, ir> case of a few laxities which he seems 
to deprecate. The most explicit reference to the Gandharva marriage is found 
in the union of Dusyanta and Sakuntala described in the Abhijndna Sdkuntala. 
This is obviously a traditional reference to an archaic incident which has been 
supported by the poet only by quoting instances from times still more archaic, 
as in the following: "Many daughters of kings and sages are reported to have 
been married by the Gandharva form ; and they were congratulated by their 
fathers. 3 " Nevertheless, this verse suggests the idea more of a subdued per- 
mission, even in those ancient days of the epics to which this verse refers, than 
of a form of marriage actually prevalent in society. To Kalidasa it is not at all 
a homely incident but one the sanction for which he is constrained to quote 
from instances, not contemporaneous, but only 'reported' (sruyante) as old and 

archaic even during the days of Dusyanta. 



There is an indirect reference made to the Asura form of marriage in the 
phrase duhitrMkasanisthayd* i.e. by the condition of the Sulka or bride-money 
of his daughter. In the Asura form of marriage payment of some considera- 
tion to the relatives and the father of the bride with a view to marrying the bride 
is imperative. This form of marriage differs from the Brahma form inasmuch 
as consideration plays an essential part in it while in the Brahma it does not. 
Asura form of marriage might not have been unknown to the times of Kalidasa 
for this is the last resort of the desertless people who have money but not worth, 
and who always remain in every society. 


3 Jfofc, III. 20. 

* &<*., XL 58. 

., v. 38. 


Departure of the Bride 

A stanza occurring in the Abhijndna Sdkuntala describes the typical Hindu 
attachment to the daughter. She has been alluded to as another's property 
and as being guarded by the father as a trust or deposit (vydsah}.' 1 The typical 
mind of the contemporary society is reflected in the following verse: "People 
suspect a married woman, whose only resort is her kinsmen's house, to be other- 
wise (i.e. unchaste), although she is chaste. Hence a woman is desired by her 
kinsmen to kee near her husband, although not liked by him. 2 " Resorting* 
to a state of independence was looked down as a grave offence 8 on the part of 
a married woman and, as said above, a woman living in the family of her kins- 
men was -considered to be transgressing social rules and compromising her own 
status as a wife, whereas even slavery in the house of her husband was consi- 
dered commendable. 4 It is therefore natural that a father should have felt great- 
ly relieved by sending away her daughter to her husband. 5 At the time of her 
departure the bride was decked with auspicious adornments (prasthdna-kautukaf 
like the applying of gorocana and clay brought from holy places and sticking of 
the sprouts of durvd grass. 7 She wore auspicious silk garments, 8 white like 
the moon, dyed her feet with lac-dye, and put on ornaments. She took an- 
other pair of silk garments which served as the upper and lower pieces of her 
robe. Then she was asked to make rounds of a newly kindled fire. 9 When 
ready to leave her old home she was blessed to take a route free from obstacles 
and thorns and guarded by auspiciousness (fdntdnukulapavanatcativasca panthdh). 1 * 
Then the father spoke thus: "Serve your elders, act the part of a dear friend 
towards your co-wives ; though ill treated by your husband never go against 
him in anger, be extremely courteous towards your servants ; be not puffed up 
in fortune ; in this way do young women attain the position of housewives; 
the perverse are the banes of their family. 11 " The reference to grhimpada in the 
stanza is notable for the position of the grhint or matron was considered most 
honourable for a woman. Kanva concludes his advice by the exhorta- 
tion: "Having become for a long time the co-wife of the Earth, bounded 
by the four oceans, and having settled your son by Dusyanta, an unrivalled war- 
rior, you will make your abode in this tranquil hermitage again along with your 
husband, who will have transferred the responsibility of his family on him. 12 " 

2 Ibid., IV. 17. 

3 oqrct TTPT HId^HHH$ Ibid., p. 178. 

4 <rfip^r 5RT <K4iHfM snrn ibid., v. 27, 

6 Ibid., IV. 21. 
6 Ibid., p. 125. 
7 *fafc.,p. 127. 
8 MfWfe STC *fta$H*f Ibid., p. 133. 


1 Ibid., IV. 10. 
11 Ibid., 17. 
"Ibid., 19. 


Although the blessing is addressed to a prospective queen, the spirit embodied 
in it is typical. , 

The above verse may also serve to suggest that the daughter once having 
gone to the house of her husband, may be, never returned to her original home, 
as the sage enjoins upon Sakuntala to return to his hermitage only at the end of 
her life as a householder and at the commencement of Vanaparstha stage. 
May be, such a custom prevailed among kings and nobles, as it is even now a 
practice with certain families of native chiefs. 

Age of the Couple 

The marriageable age was considered to fall in the post-puberty period. 
The bride was ever conscious of the love she was making and of the rituals she 
was a witness to. We have seen above that on several occasions she wAs re- 
quired to assent to certain features of the marriage ceremony. 1 It is really in- 
conceivable how a girl could have gone out to choose her husband in a Svayam- 
vara unless she was intelligent enough to grasp the sense and estimate the degree 
of responsibility she had soon to shoulder. The post-puberty marriage is well 
evidenced in the fact that Kalidasa alludes to the bride's and bridegroom's state 
of horripilation at the touch of each other. 2 The idea is also brought home 
by the fact that the poet speaks of the preparation of a marriage-bed soon after 
the connubial rites are over. 3 How could this be possible unless the couple 
were of mature age. The age of Sakuntala may be instanced in this connection. 
But if, perhaps, some may object that since Sakuntala was the daughter of a 
Ksatriya, the rule of marriage at eight did not apply to her, the examples of 
Anusuya and Primyavada may be cited. They were Brahmana and although they 
were of the same age as Sakuntala, the sage did not much worry about their mar- 
riage, but merely remarked that they also were pradeya (bestowable). 4 

The custom of marrying in order of age seems to have been established in 
the time of Kalidasa, in pursuance of which the eldest married first and the young- 
est last. A younger brother marrying before his elder brother was called Pari- 
vettd in the manner of one ascending the throne and enjoying royalty before 
his elder brother and such one, therefore, has been referred to by the same term. 5 
The son of a Brahmana married after his period of study as it is reflected in the 
reference of Kautsa, the pupil of Varatantu. He was allowed to marry and make 
a home 6 (grhaya). The son of a Ksatriya likewise married after his period of 
training. 7 A prince observed celebacy at least till he became sixteen years old, 
when he was able to bear the weight of a coat of mail. Then he observed the 
ceremony of tonsure (goddnd) and married. 8 It was seen that he was of the mar- 

1 to., VII. 85. 

8 Ibid., 77- 

8 Ibid., also cf. Ibid., 95. 

4 ?>fe.,p. 144. 

* Ragbu.y XIL i<$ cf. Amarako$a Mfcqfll^fl^ji ^5 <KmP<ilfl^ quoted by Mallinatha. 

6 *rroft TOW &#**., v. 10. 
7 ib!d.,m. 3 o, 32. 

Ibid., V. 40, 


riageable age fixed for a Ksatriya prince by the scriptures (ddrdkriydyogyadaSdm). 

The custom of giving dowry existed although, unlike now, it was not a 
condition precedent to the marriage. When the ceremonies of marriage were 
pvet the bridegroom received a dowry 1 (haranam) from the guardian of the bride 
in proportion to the guardian's means and zeal (sattvdnurupa). The daughter 
was given away with the ornaments decking her person (mangcddlaAkrtaf and 
these ornaments along with the presents received by her from her relatives on 
the occasion of her marriage, 3 became her stridhana. 

Polygamy ' 

Although the Prajapatya marriage prevailed, and people, in general, wedded 
a single wife, plurality of wives was not unknown. Nobles and rich men were 
often wedded to several wives. 4 All kings, portrayed by Kalidasa in his plays, 
indulge without exception in a multiplicity of wives. The following makes 
it clear how co-wives lived in peace: "Even to the extent of admitting a rival, 
noble ladies who love their husbands, honour their spouses ; the great rivers 
bear to the ocean the waters of many a tributary stream. 5 " 


Ordinarily it was expected that a man should marry a woman of his own 
caste and it appears from the passage quoted below that a^girl of the hermitage 
in ordinary course could marry a hermit alone. The Clown says: "Then indeed 
let your Majesty quickly rescue her, that she may not fall into the hands of some 
hermit whose head has turned greasy with the oil of the ingudi fruit." 6 But, 
nevertheless, mtercaste-marnages were not unknown, and we have a reference 
to such a marriage in the phrase varndvaratf, i.e. born of a lower caste. In the 
story Virasena (a general and half-brother of queen Dharini), born of a step- 
mother of lower caste, is mentioned. 

Some Remarks on Marriage 

As we have seen above, marriage was meant for the accomplishment of an 
end which was the "performance of the social and religious duty in company 8 ' 
(Sahadharmacarandya)\ this phrase was an essential injunction of the priest on the 

, VIJ. 32; cf. Mallmatha. ^uf MJ(4 W 3R* I *fi<J+l(cl $ 

2 Ku. 9 VI. 87. 
8 Ibid., VII. 5. 

\ p. 105. 

p- 140. 
*jMJ/.,n. 14, V. 19. 

,&*., p. 73. 

7 Mai, p. 9, text quoted ante. 

. f pp. 165, 160; K*., VIII. 29, ji; cf. also Ku.> VI. 


couple, and in consequence of it the wife was termed a dharmapatnj 1 . Wife was 
considered the chief necessity for the performance of rites of those that were 
righteous and were ever busy in the observance of religious duties (kriydndm 
khalu dharmydndm satpatnyo mulakdranatri). The wedlock itself was considered a 
result of 'affection to which real love was tied 2 ' (bhdvavandhanapremd). The phrase 
bhdvabandhana has been explained by Vallabha by the phrase cetovrttigumphanam 
which suggests a complete fusion of the feelings of two hearts. Prema is kind and* 
tender behaviour towards one whom we love; bhdva is the mind, the feeling which 
in the present passage is equivalent to love. So marriage, in spite of its cold res- 
ponsibilities or religion, was impregnated with affection. Affection itself was sup- 
posed to be the perfect abnegation of two persons who were desirous of blending 
their beings into one. The bridegroom therefore has been called an arhat while the 
wife a very 'image of righteous observances 3 ' (satkriya). It was the union of a 
gem with gold 4 . It was a fusion of two hearts in this life as well as in other lives 
to come (manobijanmdntara sangatijnctmf. It was a union of Prakrti and Pratyaya. 6 
In fact the importance of marriage in the time of Kalidasa, as even before and 
after, could not be overrated as it was the main source from which an aurasa putra 1 
a legitimate male child, could be obtained. The absence of such a son 
was considered an extreme misery. 

It may be mentioned in this connection as pointed out by Prof. A. B. Keith 8 
that "the wedlock of Siva and Parvati, as described in the Kumdrasambhava is 
not an adventure, a mere sport, no episode of light love as that of Zeus with 
Danae or many another. Their nuptials and their love serve as the prototype 
for human marriage and human love, and sanctify with divine precedent the forces 
which make the home and carry on the race of men." Siva is won only by an 
uncommon zeal of affection which endows the slender and weak frame of Uma 
with enough strength to endure the extraordinary hardship and severity of the 
penances which could put even the most austere ascetics to shame 9 . Siva is won, 
but this victory of Uma cannot be consummated into a union with him without 
the positive sanction of the Prajapatya form of marriage. 10 Her hand is sought 
from her father, who does not only sanction the proposal but also tacitly consents 
to the austerities -of his daughter to win the love of her would-be husband which 
may even amount to a sanction to love; otherwise it would have been only a union 
not for sahadharmacarandya but for the attainment of the pleasures of lust or kama. 
Where the cause of union was kama, dharmacarana or the performance of social 
and religious duties could not be an effect, as in the case of the marriage of Dus- 

. 24. 
2 Raglw.y III. 24. 
s Sdk* V. 15. 

* MaL\ V. 1 8; Ragtw., VI. 79. 
*Ragbu., VII. 15. 

6 Ibid., XI. 56. 

7 &., p. 242. 

8 A History of Sanskrit Literature, p. 87. 
J&..VL 29, 

10 Ibid., V. 86; cf. Ibid., VII. 


yanta and Sakuntala on whom the punishment of religious indignation fell se- 
verely. The Ystmdrasambhava and Abhijndna Sakuntala respectively show the merits 
and demerits of Prajapatya and Gandharva forms of marriage. The SShmtala 
points to the unworthiness, insecurity and the hollowness of a Gandharva marriage, 
and the consequent suffering which it entailed on the couple so much so that they 
had to part, and later on they were united only when the wrong had been made 
good by the subjective torture of Dusyanta, and by Sakuntala having perceived 
the sin of making love in a hermitage. 


Kalidasa quotes an interesting view about the relation of the husband and 
wife. To the husband he gives complete authority over his wif e (dd'resu prabhutd 
sarvato mukhi). In the Sakuntala Saradvata retorts angrily in the face of Dusyanta 
on the latter's declining to accept Sakuntala as his wife: "This then* is your wife, 
accept or reject her. Meet verily is the 'alround' dominion of the husbands over 
their wives 1 ." This view has its nearest approach to that propounded by Manu 
when he says that the legal effect of the gift of the wife to her would-be husband 
is demonstrated in the latter's complete ownership over her (praddnam svdmyakdra 

The works of Kalidasa reveal a high status of the wife since they give the 
reader repeatedly the idea that wedded love alone is capable of producing success- 
ful results in religious rites 3 . When Siva conceives this truth and looks upon 
the chaste Arundhati, his yearning for the ethereal pleasures of wedlock grows 
remarkably 4 . "Only the foolish distinguish," says Kalidasa, "between man and 
woman; the good respect both equallyV' Siva's regard for Arundhati is not a 
bit less due to the reason of her sex, as to the good the "distinction in terms of 
the male and female is of no account. 6 " 

The wife was endeared and loved by her husband, who bore a highly res- 
pectful attitude towards his consort 7 (arcitd, highly respected, ///. worshipped). 
Very naturally did the wife, separated in the rainy season from her husband, 
eagerly await the return of her lord at the commencement of the rains, and so 
when the clouds began to hover over her head, she looked up to them with un- 
accountable pleasure as they were considered the heralder of her beloved 8 . The 
reference to brushing aside with the hand of the hair from their forehead in the 
act of looking up to the clouds points to the custom of chaste women refraining 
from oiling and combing their hair 9 . A wife's conduct of life is reflected in that 
of the consort of the yaksa who may be taken for a type living at home in the ab- 

2 Manustnfti, V. 152. 

8 13. 

4 Ibid. 
* Ibid., 12. 

6 Ibid. 

7 *jfadl cFFT 3?fc?^Tr %*$"> x - 5 5- 

9 *fldNHi: M. P.. 8; cf. Af. U., *i. 


sence of her husband. She is entirely unmindful of her clothes and sits to sing 
the glories of the family of her lord to the tune of the vind placed on her thighs. 
She wipes off the constantly falling drops of tears from her vind and forgets 
even the most thoroughly practised murcchand' 1 . She is either counting flowers 
placed on the threshold to indicate the number of days yet remaining in the return 
of her husband or performing several auspicious rites. These aforesaid, says 
Kalidasa, were the ways in which wives separated from their husbands often em- 
ployed themselves to while away the period of separation 2 . In the absence of her 
husband the wife gave up sleeping on the bedstead and slept on the ground ? 
She left her hair unoiled and uncombed, as said above. She never cut her nails 
nor did she undo her tresses to make fresh ones 4 . Thus she renounced every 
sort of toilet and decoration 5 . Her eyes remained without unguent, her eye- 
brows lost their charms for want of wine 6 . The tresses were knitted by her 
husband on his return 7 . In her grief she kept herself employed m painting her 
lord's portrait, in playing with the domestic parrot 8 , or in making her tame 
peacock dance with the clappings of her hands 9 . 

When a wife died in coverture her dead body was decorated with ornaments 
and patterns of painted foliage before being consigned to fire 10 . It may be noted 
that funeral decorations have been described by Asvalayana 11 . 

The following verse describes the person of a wife observing a vow: "Clad 
in a white silk garment decked only with ornaments indispensable to auspicious- 
ness, and having her hair marked with the holy durvd grass, appears to be recon- 
ciled with me from her very person, while its haughty deportment given up under 
the pretext of a vow 12 ." Married ladies during their coverture put on certain 
ornaments, which even the poorest lady could not dispense with as auspicious 
tokens of their good fortune. It further appears that the fine blades of the 
durvd grass, which even to the present day are held sacred by Hindus, were worn 
in their hair by women observing a vow. A person during the performance of 
a vrata, or rather any religious observance, must be free from the spiritual enemies 
of humanity, such as lust, anger, avarice, arrogance, etc. The phrase 'ujjhi- 
tagarva* is significantly used to denote this. 

The wife was recognized by her husband as the 'matron, counseller (lit, minis- 
ter) in reference to the domestic affairs, a friend in retirement, and a dear pupil 

2 Ibid., 24. 
8 Ibid., 25. 

* Ibid., 29. 
Ibid., 30. 

6 Ibid., 32. 

7 WlfrdHVll Ibid., 29. 

* Ibid., 22. 

. 22; Mai, p. 45. 

K/*., IIL 

TT sa**^ *J*R 
MR*flfUf ^M^: GfJyaparitiftba, Adhyaya III. Khanda I. 


>'n the fine arts 1 .' The chaste wife 2 , who was indeed a dvotee of her living 
god, her husband 3 , considered the fulfilment of all her desires in that of her 
lord's 4 . 

The wife addressed her husband with the usual epithet of Aryaputra*, i.e. 
son of the venerable one, viz. the father-in-law. Her devotedness to the husband 
was remarkable. She aspired for his undivided love 6 and all her decorations in 
toilet were meant for a mere satisfied glance of her husband 7 . 

Widows and the Custom of Satl 

The custom of sat? or wife of a deceased husband immolating herself to 
death on* the funeral pyre of her husband has been alluded to by the poet in the 
phrase 'wives folio wing their lords to heaven 8 (pativartmaga)? The custom is fur- 
ther illustrated in the instance of Rati preparing to throw herself upon the burning 
remains of her husband 9 . This custom is commended by the poet as being 
natural and as an ordinary, matter of course^ event even in connection with 
the lifeless and inanimate things 10 . 

Many allusions to widows 11 show that they existed in society. At the time 
of marriage the bride and the bridegroom were adorned with auspicious decorations 
by unwidowed dames 12 which may refer to the custom of keeping the widows away 
from all auspicious occasions. In the Abhijndna Sdkuntala there is mention of 
the widows of a great merchant, Dhanamitra 13 . A widow who bore a foetus was 
obliged to live on and keep away from the funeral pyre of her deceased husband 14 . 
The Mdlavikagnimitra also refers to a widow "whose sorrows of widowhood were 
renewed 15 /' One of the rites performed by a widower 16 was to place a fire-pan 
before him and then to proceed anywhere. 

In spite of the fact that the society at the time of Kalidasa led a free and out- 
door life, it cannot be inferred in the face of unmistakable evidence that purdah 
or seclusion of women was entirely discarded. We have more than a dozen 

sf^r: *Fsft fire: ftnrfaw wft^ ^rrf^fV i R*^//., vra. 6 7 . 

2 <T%?TffT: KV-, VI. 86. <{fa<Jldm4Hfat><:i| Sak., p. 240. 

3 <rier HR&Mi: R*<gK ix. 17, xiv. 74. 

* Ku. 9 VI. 86. 
B M*/.,pp. 48, 57- 

6 ^foj fojnrer yy ** VIL 28 - 

7 **fHi Biqi^VfcWlf^ ^1 Ibid., 22. 

8 Ibid., IV. 33; cf. JKUMcim^fe Ibid., 45; fam Ibid. 35, 36. 

9 Ibid., 20; ^l*HmtH Ibid., 21; also cf. Ibid., 22. 


T: MfcNc4*n sfir uRmW f? PjQdtf <ft 11 ibid., iv. 33. 
11 rt^ iv. i; <H4ftt<fl4fci <^:^TT Mai., p. 99. 

Ibid., VII. 6. 

p. 219. 

.,XIX. 56, 
16 Mal. 9 p. 99, text quoted ante. 

"- >.,xv. 98. 


references to restricted harems, variously known as avarodha*, antahpura* and 
fuddhcintcP^ meaning a seraglio. 

The Custom of Purdah 

It is probably not just to say, therefore, that the seclusion of womenfolk took 
hold of the Hindu society with the advent of the Semitic clement. The evidence 
in Kalidasa conclusively shows that purdah as a custom was not unknown. The 
terms referring to the Hindu harem give the sense of seclusion, to whatever 
little extent it may be, and of a jealously preserved chastity thanks to which the 
harem received the sacred name of shuddhdnta* They should not, however, be, 
interpreted to mean a complete seclusion of women. Women were on no account 
immured in the zenana as now. We find references to women enjoying bath 4 in 
a river publicly which may show that there was no unqualified restriction to their 
appearing in public. But this may not be interpreted to mean that they moved 
about in society unchecked and unhindered. Modesty was considered a capi- 
tal virtue among women, and we have allusions to veiled faces. Sakuntala feeL 
bashful to go near elders in company with her husband, which again must not 
be mistaken for purdah. It is sheer modesty which restrains her from appearing 
before elders in the presence of her husband, and hence her veil 5 . When out of 
her house, she covered her body with a shawl 6 , or some such other mantle, 
and put on a veil as is evidenced in the following passage: "Who could she be 
possessed of a veil and with the loveliness of her body not fully manifested 7 ," 
Also in the passage below we find a like allusion: "Keep apart your bashfulness 
for a moment and remove your veil 8 ." 

Women were never restricted to go out on business. Not only did they 
attend the ceremonies like marriage 9 in the house of a neighbour or relation, but 
they even kept watch in certain cases over their sown fields of rice and sugarcane, 
where they sang, merrily in a chorus sitting under the scanty shade afforded by 
the sugarcanes 10 . 

Some Remarks about Women 

The daughter was endeared and caressed, and her birth was not deprecated. 
She was the very life of the family 11 (kulajlvitam), and in case of wealthy persons, 
perhaps she also was nursed by nurses like male children. She played by 

1 Ibid., I. 32, IV. 68, XVI. 25, 58, 71; SaJk. 9 VI. 12. 

2 Ragb*., XVI. 59, KM., VH. 2, $&k., p. 104 Ma/., II. 44. 

., IIL 16, VI. 45; jfai, L 15. 
3 . 
<JI &*, V. 13, Ibid., p. 168. 

Ibid., V. 13. 

7 Ibid. 

8 Ibid., p. 168. 

* *Hfri<fl &sgfc., VII. 1 6; &/., VII. 6. 


? repairing sand vedikas on river banks and with dolls 1 krtrimaputrakalh and balls 2 

From the Kumdrasambhava we learn that Sarasvati went to Siva after his mar- 
riage and sang in Sanskrit verses. To Siva she spoke in chaste Sanskrit but Uma 
she blessed in simple Prakrit style 3 . This should not come as a surprise and may 
not be supposed to suggest that it was so because women could not understand 
Sanskrit, for generally all the Sanskrit plays make women speak Prakrit alone, and 
Kalidasa is only conforming to a literary tradition. In the plays even queens 
speak Prakrit, afid it is absolutely inconceivable how they could not have grasped 
the* sense of Sanskrit while they were constantly addressed in Sanskrit by their 
husbands, royal ministers and chamberlains. It may be further pointed out 
that ladies like Malavika were highly accomplished in fine arts. Parivrajika 
was learned in several subjects like medicine and fine arts. Her accomplishment 
entitled her to sit in judgment over the merits of two veteran professors of dra- 
matic art. 

Nevertheless, unsophisticated and uncharitable remarks were not wanting 
regarding women. Women were regarded by some as cunning since their very 
birth and we have a reference m the words of Dusyanta to the idea of the people 
who considered that they were by their very nature endowed with a presence 
of mind 4 . Their natural cunning which did not need be acquired from external 
teaching was most manifest in the cuckoo whose young ones were brought up 
by other birds which lost them as soon as they were able to fly up 6 . They were 
even at times considered objects of satisfying the carnal lust of man 6 . 

Still one can never forget that the status of the woman as mother was con- 
siderably high. She was indeed a gem 7 (strlratna) whose attainment was much 
appreciated, for it was she who gave birth to the male child so very essential to 
perpetuate the line and to appease the hunger and thirst of the manes. And 
naturally the husband was congratulated when he was attended by the mother 
of a valiant son 8 . A repentant husband naturally wished to be preceded forth 9 
by his wife when he went to see a sage, who had the knowledge of his gilt and 
was appeased by the presence of the wife. It may be remarked that in obvious 
preference to several men Sakuntala had been appointed by Kanva to look after 
his guests in his absence 10 . 

Importance of a Son 

Kalidasa has dwelt long on the importance of a son. In course of about 

1 Ibid., 1. 29. 

2 Ibid.; and Ma/., p. 85. 

3 Ku., VII. 90. 


5 Ibid, V. 22. 

Ibid., VII. 34. 

*Ma/.,V. 16. 

9 S * k '\ P ' 2 "' 
10 $fi[tfi *i^^*^ldfo^c+KWfa^W| Ibid., p. 22. 


eight verses (65-71) in the first canto of the Raghuvamsa he has shown the 
emptiness of the life of a sonless man. The ancestors, he asserts, do not accept 
with delight their shares in the obsequies performed by a sonless descendant 
due to the anxiety of their losing them in the next generation 1 , and their sighs of 
grief render hot the libation of water offered to them by their descendant 2 . The 
extinction of the male 3 line is a great misfortune, for the merits resulting from the 
austerities and alms are for the happiness in the next world, but the son be- 
gotten on the wife of pure blood (faddbavamfyd) is indeed the cause of happiness 
both here and hereafter 4 . The sonlessness, which keeps one from paying the 
last debt (r$amantyam\ is an unbearable misery 5 , for the son alone is the means- by 
which this last debt the act of procreation through a male child is settled 6 . 
Son is the cause of the line as also that of endless fame 7 . All the wealth of the 
family, where there is no son, is rooted out at the end of the last male descendant 8 . 
That is why there was a great merriment on the birth of a son 9 , who was charac- 
terized as the seed 10 and sprout 11 and the prop of a family 12 . It was for the son, 
and for him all the more, that the brassier of the mother got wet with the oozing 
milk 13 . And naturally it was a great pleasure to watch the running child with 
his locks of hair falling constantly 14 on his temples and cheeks. What exhilara- 
tion it was to watch such a child when it was one's own and what a reflective 
melancholy when it was not I 15 

The purity of blood was carefully guarded and eagerly sought to be pre- 
served. The wife was, therefore, sought to be drawn from a pure family 16 as 
is implied in the phrase santatih fuddhavamtyd hi (child born of a woman of pure 
extraction). A legitimate son 17 (aura so) was a necessity and, he, again, was 
expected to bear a striking resemblance with the father both in form 18 and 
qualities. 19 

1 R^//., I. 66; $ak., VI. 25. 

2 Ejgfm., I. 67. * 

: Ibid., 68. 

4 Ibid., 69. ^ ^ 

5 *KKVH<fl sMPAMlW T PhHfa Vik., p. 121. *ffaFffa*[ cf. Raghu., I. 71. 

' Ibid., II. 64. 
*$ak. y p. 221. 
B K^gto.,X. 76. 

10 3fta A**., VII. 15. 

11 ^T^: Ibid., VII. 19. 

12 **rfcr?r K/A..V. 15. 

SaL, VII. 12. 

14 I. 28. 

ik., V. 9. 

11 <pf ^tfUc^Ml^^ Ibid., V. 34. 
V , * 




Kalidasa refers to the following items of food: yava^ or barley including 
perhaps wheat also, rice of various kinds like the tdlfi and the kalamd*\ tila* or 
seasamum; sugar with its several kinds like the gudavikdrd* and matsyandtku* 
and its sweetmeat preparations of round-balls 7 (modaka); milk 8 and its various 
preparations like butter 9 , clarified butter, 10 curds, 11 khira or payascanF* and the 
like ; honey, 13 meat 14 of various kinds ; fish ; 15 various spices like peppers, 16 
cardamoms 17 and cloves, 18 and salt ; 19 and innumerable fruits like the sweet 
mango. 20 


Indian food during the time of Kalidasa was nutritious and vigorous. Bar- 
ley, wheat, and rice were the staple food of the people. Of rice there were 
several kinds like the salt, kalamd, and riivdra. Sugarcanes produced guda and 
sugar. Gudavikdra was a particular stage in the preparation of sugar. Matsyandikd 
was one of the-many kinds of sugar. 21 It was globular in shape like the eggs of 
fish as the phrase would suggest. Various preparations of sweetmeat (tnodakd) 

. IX. 43; SH-vTM^taRJT Ibid., VII. 27. 
2 R/** III. i, 10, 16, IV. i, 8, 18, V. i, 16; Ragku., XV. 78, XVIT. 53. 

3 R^#.,IV. 37; to/., V. 47- 
4 ?.,p. 94. 
6 BJ*. 9 V.i 6. 

6 trgf ^ sfrf qr^5T.>^?r T^ajP'yflT ^^^^r Mai., p. 42. 

7 qW F/^., p. 75.; ift^rf'CTrro Mai., p. 8 1 ^^fog-^Ttr Sat., p. 62, 
., p. 65. 

.,II. 63. 
Ma/., p. 57- 


13 x^., ym. 7 z. 

p. 55> 

MaL 9 pp. 33-34. 

15 n%il*h*fl ^*-, PP- 184, 206. 

., iv. 46. 

18 ^T Ibid., VI. 57; ##., VIII. 25. 

V. 73- 

21 HrWN+l TPT ^tK <l Mq-- Commentator, Mai., p. 42. 


were made with sugar. Apart from its various uses in food, it was also used 
as an antidote for the intoxication from wine. 1 

Sugar and Sweetmeats 

Modaka was prepared from rice or wheat-flour stuffed with sugar, thin 
slices of the kernel of the cocoanut, together with spices, and then either 
boiled over steam, or fried in clarified butter. 2 It was a round ball and its parts 
have been supposed to resemble the phases of the moon 3 . We find the 
cowherds (Ghosas) running to meet their king taking clarified butter with 
them as a present. 4 These Ghosas were the professional breeders and rearers 
of cows as now. 

Preparations of Milk 

The enormous wealth of cows supplied the people with the vigorous 
milk, butter (navanitd), clarified butter and curds. Siharinl (stkharim\ as the 
commentator points out, 5 was prepared from curds mixed with spices like 
cardamoms, cloves, camphor and other fragrant ingredients and cooked in 
milk and sugar. Sometimes it was also prepared in milk and ripe plantains 
and other ingredients enumerated above (without curds) and named 
SikbarinL* Honey was another item of food which was also used 
in the reception of a guest 7 and at other festive rites. It was* given 
the name of madbuparka and arghya? the latter was honey mixed with rice and 
durvd grass. 9 The innumerable flowers of India attracted swarms of sucking 
bees yielding much honey, which served not only as an item of food but also 
as an ingredient of oblations to gods. 


An important item of food appears to have been meat and fish. Exten- 
sive hunting did not waste life for nothing and the meat of the hunted prey like 
the dear and the boar was eaten as a common practice. Even a Brahmana did 
not abstain and he also freely indulged in taking meat as may be instanced from 
a passage occurring in the Abhijndna Sdkuntala where the Vidusaka says with a 
little reluctance, however : "At irregular times a meal, mostly consisting of 
meat roasted on spits is eaten. 10 " Meat was not obtained only from the hunted 
animals of the forest but even regular slaughter houses were run for killing 
animals, the flesh of which might have been sold consequently in the market. 
The passage referring to the slaughter house is the following : "As for your 

1 Ibid.; text quoted ante. 

2 M. R. Kale: Malavikagnimtra> notes. 
]//*.. p. 65. 

f, 1.45. ^ ^ 

' wfr^^T^ K/&, p. 71* 

Ibid. - 

*., VII. 72. 
8 R*^., XL 69; Ku., VI. 50. 

10 p- 55- 


honour, you are like a bird hovering round a slaughter house (hind} greedy, 
of meat, but timid. 1 " Fish was also taken. One particular kind of it was robita 
or carp found in lakes and ponds in the neighbourhood of the Ganges. It grows 
to the length of three feet, is very voracious, and its flesh, though it often has a 
muddy taste, is edible. Its back is olive-coloured, its belly of a golden hue, 
its fins and eyes red. 2 It may be noted here that Fahien dwells at length on per- 
fect abstention but there is unmistakable evidence in Kalidasa to show that 
meat was commonly taken. Fahien says : "They do not keep pigs and fowls, 
and do not sell live cattle-; in the markets there are no butcher's shops and no 
dealers in intoxicating drink. 3 " The pilgrim obviously saw every thing with 
Buddhistic glasses and his description can hardly be accepted as literally true 
when, soon after, he contradicts himself by adding that "Only the Chandabs 
are fishermen and hunters, and sell flesh and meat. 4 " From his own statement 
the point is proved beyond doubt that there were butcher's shops although not 
run by dvijas. But this is so even now when the practice of eating meat is com- 
mon. No upper class or even lower class Hindu sells flesh. Even now it has 
been retained by fowlers and hunters or by Khatiks who are the Candalas of 


Spices were also used in preparation of food. We have a reference to at 
least three of them cardamoms, cloves and pepper growing wildly in the 
region of the Malaya mountains in the south. 5 Sikbarini was prepared, as men- 
tioned above, by mixing curd or milk and plantains with these spices. Salt, 
such an important item of the present day, was known and must have been used 
along with the spices. With highly spiced preparations without sugar salt 
becomes almost a necessity, and since it was known and given to the horses 
for licking, 6 it must have been used in human diet also. 


Besides the above, people had the abundance of fruits which may have 
been widely eaten, particularly in the ascetic settlements. Kalidasa makes 
innumerable references to fruit-trees. Mango 7 was naturally a favourite. 

Categories of Food 

The poet has also made a general reference to the traditional five kinds 8 
of food which may be enumerated below : Things to be chewed and then 

1 Mai., p. 33, text quoted ante. 

2 Sakuntala by Monier Williams, Notes. 

3 Fabtetfs Record of buddhistic Kingdoms. Trans, by James Legge, p. 43. 

4 Ibid. 

R^*-, IV. 46; t^MHfrHRlu'N: lbld -> 47; tMf*f%tf< &*> VIII. 25. 
V. 73- 

p. 71. . . 

Ibid., p. 32. Commentator Katayavema has the following on this: 


eaten (bhaksya) like bread and other flour preparations, for example modaka\ 
things to be eaten without chewing (bhojya), such as rice ; things to be licked 1 
(hhyyti) like thin liquid condiments, for instance Sikharini ; things to be sucked 
(cosya\ such as mango-pickles ; and things to be drunk 2 (peya\ such as milk, 
wine, etc. 


Drinking of wine appears to have been an extensive habit .of the people. 
Kalidasa makes innumerable allusions to the occasional intemperance of peo- 
ple, who drank at times so much that the after-effects were uncontrollable. 8 
Not only men but even women indulged in drinking. It was believed that in- 
toxication gave- a special charm to women. 4 Iravati, one of the consorts of 
Agnimitra, is seen in the M.dlavikdgnimitrct in a state of intoxication. 5 Indumati, 
the beloved queen of Aja, received wine from the mouth of her husband, who 
directly transferred it to her mouth. 6 In the Kumdrasambhava we read of Siva 
himself drinking wine and making his wife drink it. 7 Wine may be said to 
have been a regular indulgence of the married couple. Then we read in the 
Abhijndna Sdkuntala the Nagarika and his constables indulging in wine. 8 In 
the l&M$uvam$a mention is made of the whole army of R; ghu drinking wine 
extracted from the cocoanuts. 9 We have references to the drinking peg 10 (casaka), 
a grogshop 11 on the road side, and to an. open place of drinking 12 (pdnabhfimi} 
'abounding in drinking cups' (casakottara). Pdnabhtim, literally, is a place of 
driiiking in. The name, however, does not signify a grogshop, nor is it con- 
fined to the idea of a drinking place strictly so called, but it also means a place 
generally a part of a palace adjoining the seraglio 13 where revelries in honour, 
so to speak, of Bacchus are celebrated. 

Kinds of Wine 

The common words for wine in Kalidasa are madya^ dsava^ madhu 1 * and 

., V. 73; V?k., IV. 44- 
Mat., p. 33- 

- I2 > ^niMH^M Ibid., VIII. 80. 
Ibid., III. 38. 

mgfar i *nft *f ftwrlfe Afj/., p. 49. 

//., VIII. 68. 
7 //., VIII. 77. 
*SaJk., p. 188, 

R^gfaf., IV. 42. 

Ibid., VII. 40. 

n ^tf^T^T S*k.,p. 1 88. 

12 C0., VI. 42. c the commentator o n 

., XIX. n* if^jdlMMfH^: Ibid., IV. 42- 

14 PwfNr TO 44^11^^^ R/-> V. 10. 

16 Rig/ku., IV. 42, XIX. 12, 46; RA/., IV. 11; l^.^IIL 38; Vik., IV. 44. 
16 M. 17., 3; R^ghf., Vin. 68. 


madird 1 although other phrases like vdrum? kddambarfi and Sidbtfl also have 
been used. Kalidasa refers particularly to three kinds of preparation of wine, 
viz. i. extracted from the cocoanuts 5 (narikelasava), 2. -prepared from the juice 
of sugarcanes 6 (sidhu) and 3. extracted from flowers like madhuka 1 (puspdsavd). 
Generally scented wine 8 was used by the well-to-do classes. Flowers of the 
mango and red patak 9 (Stereospermum suaveolnes) were used to perfume 
the various wines. Apart from scenting the wine the effect of bad odour 
was sought to be removed by the use of the skin of matulunga or bijapuraka 10 
(Citrus medica). "The bijapuraka skin was chewed to remove all traces of the 
smell of drink, to prevent melodorous belching after a generous meal, to sweeten 
the breath ...... " u Another way of removing the trace of ill odour of wine 

was the chewing of betel leaves, 12 and nuts. 13 The wildly growing betel leaves 
intertwined with the branches of the cardamom trees in the Malaya regions of 
the far south and. the long line of the areca-nut trees on the sea shores must have 
provided the Indian people with the articles making up for a perfect betel roll, 
when its use had been pretty old in India even in the time of Kalidasa as is evi- 
denced by the Kdmasutra where a detailed description of a nagaraka's room and- 
habits is given. 

The effects of drunkenness were manifested in the beauty produced by the 
rolling red eyes and in the meaningless expression at every faltering step. 14 In 
the Mdlavikdgnimitra we have a reference 15 to the effects of intoxication being 
undermined by the use of matsyandikd, a variety of sugar prescribed by ancient 
medical works as an antidote for over-intoxication in their sections devoted 
to Madatyayacikitsd^ 

We have seen above that the drinking of wine was a fashionable vice among 
the people during the time of Kalidasa. Fahien's assertion that there were no 

1 M. U. 15; R/#., VI. 10; Vtk.> II. 13, IV. 42. 
. 12. 

agfw., XVI. 52; *ftf Ma/., p. 42- 
6 Ragbu., IV. 42 Mallinatha: 

. 52, cf. Mallinatha. q^n?f^>: fl<lRKto: cf. Yadava lexicon 

I Mallinatha on Ktt., III. 38. 
<JTT*f 3fTf*Tcf Mallinatha on Raghu., XVI. 52.; JFL///., IV. T i Vik., IV. 44. 
* Raghu., XIX. 46. 

11 Y^fa^$Malavikagnimitra\aStudy~The Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol. XI. No. i, March 
1 93 5, pp. 40-41. 

12 Ragbu., IV. 42; R/#., V. 5. 
18 Raghtt., IV. 44. 




Ajirnamrtamanjan by 


dealers in intoxicating drinks 1 can hardly be admitted for truth for reasons given 
elsewhere. Although it is possible that the poet may have made much of 
it, yet it cannot be dismissed as a pure poeti<ml fiction . It may be noted that most 
of the instances of drinking were associated with royal classes and the nobility. 
It is possible that the Ksatriyas indulged in drinking wine but the Brahmins 
abstained. Nevertheless, the works of the poet disclose ample and unmistakable 
evidence that drinking was a favourite indulgence among the common pecple 2 
as well. 


We have references to various sorts of dress of men and women suiting all 
weathers and occasions 3 of India. We read of hunting dresses 4 and dresses 
put on by repentant and love-sick 5 persons, by aWisarikds* and by those observ- 
ing a vow. 7 What dress was to be worn by what type of persons was settled, 
so that as soon as a character made his entrance on the stage, the audience at 
once knew whether he was repentant, love-sick or observing a vow. People 
were particular about their clothes and dressed themselves in winning 8 white 
apparel. 9 Clothes of various colours 10 white, 11 red, 12 blue, 13 saffron 14 and 
black 15 were worn. Apart from colours, cloth was made of various patterns 
suited to the hot and cold weathers. We find mention of both silk 16 (kauhjaka) 
and wool 17 (pair or no). Silk was woven with fine patterns of the fingers of fla- 
mingoes, 18 and one of its kind, Cindmsuka^ came from China as the etymology 

1 Fa-hief?s Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms, Trans, by James Ledge's, p. 43. 

2 Cf. $ak., p. 188; R//A, I. 3, IV. n, VI. 10; Ragtw., II. 42, 61, XVI. 52; M. 17., 3, 11,15, 32, 
^tjeM^q 1 : Ragbu.* V. 76 W^feNf^efq-r VI. 10 cHlM^^^T??^ IX. 50; 

Sak. 9 p. 68. 

. 68. 

Raghu., IX. 50: In the hunting dress the han was tied with a vanamdla and the clothes used 
for the body were of a colour matching with leaves (of Palaa, etc.), so that the beasts might 
be easily deceived cf. ^aghu. y IX. 51. 
*!///&., III. 12. 
Ibid., p. 68. 

t: Ibid., I. 46 ^wcHHHmjfr Commentator; s^KHMmyt Ibid -> VL 6 J 

f M. u., ii. 

R>"-, H. 25 ^cHKiVKiMI lblcl > I1L z6 ' facTRFF Vtk. 9 III. 12, cf. Ra&u., I. 46, 
.VI. 6. 

//., IX. 43, ICKIJ^: R/^., VI. 4, 19; qitHq^Nm^ii 8 !)^! 4 ! ^> ^- 54- 

13 ^Tt^> Vik.> p. 68; Af. P. 41- 

u., XV. 77; ch^<H||<jrM^: R>"-> VI. 4. 

Vtk., IV. 17. 
18 R^, V. 8; <$$& Ma/., p. 105. 

ia,p. 105, 

., XVII. 25; Nl^bf|Mv|(HU|4i | Ku. t V. 67. 


of the phrase suggests. There were patterns of cloth made of such thin texture 
as could be easily blown away by the breath". 1 Perhaps the reference is to the 
famous Indian muslin. In summer people generally put on clothes 2 suitable 
for the scorching heat of the Indian sun. Then there were apparels made 
by weaving gems 3 in their texture to keep the body cool by soothing the heat 
in summers. In winter naturally the heavy attire 4 made or wool 6 or silk-wool 
was a great favourite. We have even an allusion to the distinctive attires of 
night and day. 6 There is no wonder if the luxury-loving Indian of the time 
did not like to spoil his costly robe of the day by using it at night while 
in bed. It would be better to deal separately with dress with reference to arti- 
cles put on by men and women. 

Wedding Dress 

It appears that different wedding dresses prevailed in different countries 
within India. In the Mdlavikdgnimitra the Parivrajika is requested to display 
on Malavika's person the wedding dress which prevailed in the Vidarbha coun- 
try, 7 Consequently the bride appeared in her 'marital costume' 8 clothed in a 
silk garment, not much hanging down and putting on beautiful ornaments. 9 
The ordinary wedding dress seems to have been a pair of silk robes in which were 
woven forms of swans, serving for the upper and lower garments of the bride 
and the bridegroom. 

Dress of Men and Women 

The articles of dress put on by man were generally three in number. His 
head he covered with a turban, 10 vestana, and then he wore two pieces of cloth 11 
(dukulayugmam\ namely, the uttariycF* and the lower garment. Vestana was a 
headgear encircling the head and binding the hair locks of men 13 and boys. 14 
Uttariya was an upper scarf covering the shoulders. People favoured by for- 
tune used scarfs made by weaving gems into their texture 15 (ratnodgrathitottariyam), 
evidently used in summers. The dress of a scarf and dhoti or loin-cloth may 
be witnessed on the beautifully carved bas-reliefs and other images carved in 

Ragbn. 9 XVL 43. 
2 ibid., ^i'snfr R/#., i. 7> iv. 3; sffijRrerj^rsrr Ibld -> n. 25, ^ftram% fo^nr qjf 

Ibid., VI. 13. 

, XVI. 43- 

l R/*.,I.7,V. 2, VI. 13. 
* Mai., V. 12, Ibid., p. 105. 
R/fc., V. 14. 

7 Ma/., p. 93. 

8 PHIfrlHm Ibld > PP- 9> 93- 

9 Ibid., V. 7. 

10 R^., I. 42, VIII. 12. 

11 $h*Nm* Ibid., VII. 1 8, 19. 
"IbicCxVI. 435,6**., p. 218. 

13 Ratfw., I. 42. 

14 Ibid., VIII. 12. 

15 Ibid., XVL 43. 



the round, dating from the time of the Kusana and Gupta periods or still earlier, 
preserved in the Muttra Museum. Some fine exhibits bearing long-flowing 
ttttariya and an elaborate loin-cloth with pleated effect reaching the ankles 
are the Nos. 1448 (a perfect specimen of terracotta Kamadeva with five 
arrows), C 18, 186, E.8 (figure of a yaksa) i. 8, 14, P. 14 and P. 68. Uttarlya 
was perhaps so essential in those days that among the sculptural compositions 
at Sanchi, Bharhut and Amraoti there is not one male figure without it. 1 This, 
however, does not hold good in case of the painted figures at Ajanta. 2 The 
innumerable figures especially the figure of Srngi Rsi (J. 7) of the Muttra 
Museum, more especially still the Suriga figures, put on a turban (Usmsa} 
beautifully executed whereon, at times, we find imitations of gems scattered or 
set. At Sanchi all male figures have Usmsa in the manner of a pheta^ the mode 
of doing which is given by Shrimant Balasaheb Pant Pratinidhi in PL 2 of his 
work Ajanta. Many figures at Sanchi and Bharhut are carved in the style of 
wearing a pheta? The wedding dress of the bridegroom comprised of those 
very two articles of robe with the only difference that they were not made of ordi- 
nary cotton but of silk fabric in which figures of swans 4 (hamsarihnadukfilavdn) 
were woven. This was a favourite design in the silk texture and such a pat- 
tern we find illustrated in a picturesque style in the dress rf Kumari riding the 
peacock preserved in the Muttra Museum. 

Women put on three pieces of robe. The phrase amfuka has been used to 
signify their costume. Although the phrase signifies any cloth, still all refer- 
ences to the word have been made invariably in connection with a woman's 
apparel 5 . Of the three pieces of the woman's garment one was an upper and 
another a lower garment and a shawl. The upper garment was a bodice 6 (ktir- 
pasakd) the like of which we find displayed on the person of a few female images 
of the Muttra Museum. This bodice has been generally referred to by the word 
standrhfuka* . This shows that the upper garment did not cover the entire breast 
region but like the modern choli it covered the breasts alone and was worn with 
the help of bands 8 . It is still used by most women of southern India, Rajputana , and 
of the locality round Muttra. We are not sure of what sort this lower garment 
was, but from the use of the words ntvfi, and ntvi-bandha 1 *, we can infer that it 
hung low to the ankles and was held up on the loin at its upper end by a nivL 
Nlvi was a cord which tied the upper end of the front folds into a round knot 
called nm-bandha* There is no reference to putting on of the lower garment in 

1 Shrimanta Balasaheb Pant Pratinidhi: Ajanta, p. dd 

2 Ibid. 

8 Ibid., p. ee. 

4 Ragfw., XVII. 25;*.,V. 67. 

5 Raj&*. 9 VI. 75, XL 4, *6, *., I. 14; R/#. 3 1. 7, IV. 3, VI. 4, 19; Vik.> III. 12, IV. 17. 
6 *qfa* R/#.,IV. i6,V. 8. 

7 Ibid., VI. 8; K/A., IV. 17, V. 12. 

8 ^ q-apFrrfr $/*., VI. 8. 

f.. VII. 9; Ku., VII. 60. 
foft*f M- V., 5; ^ft^f K*. VIJI. 4. 


the manner of the modern sari, although the Kambojika 1 of the Muttra Museum 
wears a sari in a perfectly modern manner. Most probably the lower garment 
reached up to the loin only and there it was supported by a cord in the manner 
of the Saptamatrkas 2 , the composite image of the Seven Mothers of the Muttra 
Museum. The lower garment was bour^d over the region of the waist covering 
the zone round the waist-band 3 (Ksaumdntaritamekhale). Lastly, there was a long 
shawl 4 used by women which covered them almost from head to foot serving 
even for a veil. There was a particular dress for the occasion of wedding 5 and 
it comprised of two pieces of silk-cloth, the upper and the lower garments. We 
have already made a reference to the fact that different wedding dresses prevailed 
in different countries within India. The ordinary wedding dress of a woman was 
a pair of silk garments 6 , serving as a bodice and a lower loin-cloth. The newly 
married wife (navabadhu) put on a red bodice 7 . 

The Yavams or the Greek attendants of the king, while hunting, were at 
once marked out by their distinctive attire 8 . We have no mention of the 
articles of their apparel specifically except that they moved about with a bow, put- 
ting on many garlands and encircling the king 9 . In the famous so-called Baccha- 
nalian Group of the Muttra Museum the attire of the Greek females may be seen. 
It is a long-sleeved jacket and a skirt falling down on the feet which are shod with 
plump shoes and a fillet like vest ana checking the locks of hair from falling 10 . 
A perfect specimen of a Yavani is instanced in a figure carved on a railing pillar 11 
with a sword in hand and wearing bobbed hair. Another such may probably 
be seen in the image of a majid with a wine jar attending on the drinking royal 
couple in a fresco at Ajanta. 

Dress of Ascetics, 

The ascetics put on saffron clothes in the manner of Sita 12 generally made 
of tree-skin 13 . Girls of the hermitage put on a bark-made dress 14 in the manner 
of the ascetics. We have no reference to distinctive dresses of male and female 
ascetics although we may infer that there may have been a difference. Sakun- 
tala wears a bark dress with a knot 15 on her shoulder. It is not clear whether only 
one knot was tied on one of the shoulders, or two, one on each. 

1 F. 42 of The Catalogue of the Sculptures of the Archaeological Museum, Mathura, by J Ph, Vogel. 

2 F. 38. Ibid ' 

3 Rtiffa , X. 8 

ifofe.,V. 13. 

5 H^lufiHH Mai., pp. 90. 93, 105; }Laghu., VI. TO, VII 18, 19, XIX 25; Ku., V. 67. 

&*#&., XVII. 25; J</y.,V. 67. 
7 Rta., VI. 19. 
jfefc.p. 57- 
9 Ibid. 

10 C. 2 of The Catalogue of the Sculpture of the Arcl Mu., Mathura. 

11 J. 63. of Ibid. 

. 77- 

18 tw>HU| $ak., p. 28, I. 17. 
"Ibid., I. 17. 
i* Ibid., p. 28. 


Of Robbers 

Robbers living in forests and representing the wild tribes, perhaps the abori- 
gines, covered their chests with quiver-straps and wore plumes of peacocks' 
feathers that hung down to their ears 1 . 


Kalidasa refers to the following ornaments calling them variously as bhusana 2 ^ 
dbharana*, ctlankara* and mandand*. Ornaments worn on the head were cuddmanfi, 
a precious stone of uncommon brilliance, ratnajdla or muktdjdla 1 ^ a net made of 
precious stones or pearls to cover the locks of hair, jewels inserted in the tresses 
of hair, and kinta^^ a tiara put on by kings. Ears were adorned with various 
sorts of ear-rings called karndbhusaruP^ karnapura, kundalcP- and manikundala^ 
(ear-pendants) made of rubies and other precious stones. On the neck was 
worn what was called niskd^^ a necklace probably made by stringing together 
coins known as niskas. This sort of neck-ornament (kanthe) has been referred ' 
to in as early a document as the ILgveda. Then there were in use various kinds 
of long necklaces falling in strings on the breast. Of these muktdvali 1 ^ was a 
string of pearls, tdrahdra^,, a necklace of big pearls (sthulamuktdhdrdh Mallinatha), 
bara 1 *, an ordinary necklace, haraSekhara ', a snow-white string, harajastt 1 *, 'an 
only string of pearls suddha ekdvali with a gem in the centre" referred to by 
Kautilya (ch.x9. p. 77), vaijayantikd, explained by T. A. Gopinath Rao 20 under 
the heading of vaijayantl as a necklace composed of a successive series of groups 
of gems, each group wherein has five gems in a particular order; he quotes the Visnu 
Purtfna to elucidate the meaning of this necklace: "Visnu's necklace called vai- 
jayanti is five-formed as it consists of the five elements, and it is therefore call- 
ed the elemental necklace. Here five-formed points to five different kinds of 
gems, namely, the pearl, ruby, emerald, blue-stone, and diamond." HemasutraP- 

1 MaL> V. 10. 

2 RagJM. 9 XVIII. 45, XIX. 45; M. U., 11 

At?/., V. 7; p. 104; Vtk., p. 68; Ragbti., XIV. 54; X//., III. 53, VII. 21. 
4 Mrt/., p. 92. 
*Ku.,I. 41 M. U. 9 n. 

8 Vlk. t p. 122. 

7 M. P., 63; Ibid., 17. 9. 
RdgA*., VI. 19. 

9 Ibid., 65. 

10 Ibid., VII. 27. 

11 Ibid., X. 5 i;R///.,III. 19. 

12 R///., II. 19. 

&., 11.49- 

" R^jhf., XIIL 48. 

15 Ibid., V. 52. 

16 Ibid., V. 70, VI. 1 6, XVI. 62; R/*., IV. 2, VI. 24, 56; M. U. 9 9. 

17 R/*., L 6. 

18 Ibid., I. 8, II. 25. 

20 The Hindu Iconography, Vol. I. part I, p. 26. 

21 1/iA., pp. 122, 123. 


was a chain of gold with a precious stone in the centre 1 . Prdlamba* ,and mala* 
were long garlands of flower. Ear-ornaments (karnabhiisana?) of various designs 
were worn on the ears. A few of them have been mentioned by Kalidasa: Karna- 
pura* 9 or kundala, an ear-ring, made of gold or precious stones like ruby 6 , and ear- 
ornaments of gold made in imitation of yellow lotus 7 . AngadcP or keyura*, arm- 
lets of gold and of gold with gems set in them, were frequently used by both men 
and women. Va/aya 10 , bracelets, adorned the forearm of the two sexes, and rings 
(angultya 11 , anguliyaka^} of various designs decorated the fingers. Besides gold, 
which was mostly used for ornaments, diamonds and other gems 13 were also em- 
ployed for making rings. Several rings bore the design of a serpent 14 , while 
others were imprinted with the names of their owners. Sometimes a ring was 
used as a pass-word of authority 15 . The poet makes endless references to the gold 16 
and gem-set girdles, mostly alternated with gold and precious stones thus made to 
look variegated in colour 17 , worn by women on their waist. He alludes to them by 
several designations like mekhala 1 *^ hemamekhald 1 *, kdncf^^ kanakakdnci* 1 , kinkim* 2 
and raSana^ 9 which may warrant the existence of as many types. An actual variety 
of the waist-bard may be studied among the scores of images of female goddesses 
preserved in the Muttra Museum. Perhaps there were two further types of girdles, 
the jingling 24 and the silent sort. Nupuras 25 , producing sweet sound adorned the 
ankles of women and were made of various precious stores 26 . We read of a jewel- 
casket 27 and 9 box containing ornaments 28 . Ornaments were aslo set in costumes 


u., VI. 14 
3 Ate/., p. 36. 
*Ragfa, V. 65. 
6 Ibid., VII. 27. 

6 R/#., II. 19. 

7 M. 17., 9. 

8 Ragbu., VI. 14, 53, 73; XVL 60; RAr., IV. 3, VI. 6; F/&, I. 15. 

9 Raghu., VI. 68, VII. 50, XVI. 56. 

10 $ak.> III. 10, VI. 6; M. P., 12; Ragfa., XVI. 73; R/*., VI. 6. 

11 Raghu., VI. 1 8; Sak. 9 p. 47. 

12 $ak.y pp. 49, 120, 146; Ma/. 9 p. 4. 

u. 9 VI. 1 8. 

15 Sak., p. 120, VI. 12; Mat., p. 4- 

16 Rag/to., XIII. 3; XIX. 41; R/#., I. 6; III. 24; Mai, III. 21. 
" Ragbu., XIX. 45J &>> I- 38; R^-, IV. 4, VI. 3. 

18 Ate/., p. 59; R>#., I- 4> 6, VI. 3; to., I. 38, VIII. 89; Raglw., VIII. 64, XIX. 25, 26, 45. 

19 R/#., I. 6. 

20 Ibid., II. 19, III. 24, IV. 4; &*", VI. 43; **., I- 37, HI. 55; Ate/., III. 21, p. 28. 
81 R/*., III. 24. 

28 Ibid., VII. 10, XVI. 65, XIX. 27, 41; Af. P., 35; R/fc., VI. 24; Ate/., p. 59- 

84 M. P., 3 5; R/*., III. 24. 

85 Ragb*., VIII. 63, XIII. 23, XVI. 12, 56; to., I. 34; R/#., I. 5, III. 25, IV. 4; f/A., III. 15, 
IV. 30, p. loo. 

26 R///., III. 25. 

27 AM, pp. 73, 87. 

28 Ibid., p. 104. 


for use in gummer 1 to give a cool touch to the person of the wearer. Of the above 
mentioned ornaments, cuddmani or kapdlamant 1 ^ kirita^ kundala, niska, various 
types of gold chains and pearl strings, angada^ valaya, anguliyaka were worn by men, 
and these same excepting perhaps the kirita and vaijayanti, and the rest served 
as ornaments for women. Thus men also wore ornaments, and to bring the pic- 
ture home we may quote an almost contemporary image of Visnu in a ruined temple 
of Deogarh in Jhansi which wears kirita-mukuta, kundala^ hdra y keyura, kataka 
and vanamdld. This image has been reproduced in PL XXXII of the Hindu^Ico- 
nography^ Vol. i. Part. i. of T. A. Gopinath Rao. The profusion of ornaments 
used by women may be marked in the Ajanta paintings where they are worn 
with much warmth particularly by the maid-servant of cave No. ^ who is other- 
wise devoid of clothing. 

Toilet Hair 

We read in Kalidasa of cropped head with a long bunch of hair called 
on it as well as of long hair grown by men 4 . When men wore long hair they tied 
them with a hair-band 5 . They shaved their beard but during the period of 
mourning they let it grow long 6 . The word for beard is fmasru. Persians 
kept long beards. 7 Boys wore hair in locks called kdkapaksa^^ as they, falling on 
the sides, resembled the wings of a raven. 

Women grew long hair 9 , oiled and combed 10 them, and then parted 11 and 
knit them in long tresses 12 . They wore flowers 13 , pearls and gems in their long 
hanging tresses, and on the parting line. Sometimes a network of pearls was worn 
to cover the hair. Separated wives neither oiled nor combed their hair nor did 
they undo their tresses in order to knit them afresh which consequently grew 
rough and dry 14 . Women perfumed 15 their hair with the incense of aguru, 
sandal, etc. They tied their venis or tresses in one knot and put it on the crown 
of the head. It was called sikhd 1 * or cudd. They also knit the mass of hair in 

2 Vtk., p. 122. 

4 Vik., Act. IV; fa^-cft Ibid., Act. V. 

**., II. 8. 

Ibid., XVIII. 71. 
Ibid., IV. 63. 

Ibid., III. 28, XL I, 42, XVIII. 43- 
Af. P., 8;R/.,IV. 15. 
10 Ibid. 

18 Ragbu XIX. 12; M. LT., 2; .&*., p. 250. 

13 M. U., *;R*gA*.,VL 23. 

14 M. LT M 29. 

5 :R/w., I. 4 H. 21, V. 5, VI. 13; KM., VII. 14; M, P., 32. 
. LT.,29. 


a single long braid technically known as 'ekavent 1 . 9 Ekaveni is not the modern 
jura, for the description of a wife in separation refers to the ekavem hanging on 
her back down to the buttocks 2 . * 

Articles of Toilet 

Among the articles of toilet may be summed up flowers of an innumerable 
variety, garlands, perfumes, odoriferous powders, incense, collyrium, ointments 
and pastes, a sort of lip-stick, lac-dye for the feet and fragrant substances used to 
perfume the body and mouth. 


Of the many articles of toilet flower was the chief and it played a great part 
in the aesthetic make up of the people. Innumerable references to flower are 
made by the poet. No festivity could be held without it and it chiefly figured 
among decorations on all occasions. Men and women wore garlands long enough 
to reach their knees. Most of the ornaments of precious stones and metals were 
replaced by flower imitations 3 . We have a reference to a zone or girdle made 
of flowers 4 to be worn in place of the usual one of gold. Young women stuck 
flowers and new leaves of kesara in their hair and bore them -as ornaments. 
Flowers of kesara were also used to make a girdle 6 . Karmkdra flowers were 
employed as ear-pendants 6 . Women played with lotuses in their hands, placed 
kunda blossoms and manddra flowers in their hair, Sirisa flowers on their ears, 
flowers blossoming in the rainy season on the parting line of the hair, and knit 
kurabaka flowers in their tresses 7 . Girls living in a hermitage wore ornaments 
made exclusively of flower 8 . Already a class (puspalavP) had grown up and taken 
the business of flower for its profession. 


Several cosmetics were used by both men and women. Before bathing, 
they used to anoint their bodies with various pastes called anulepana w and atiga- 
raga u 9 (fragrant ointments ordinarily made of fine sandal-wood paste) prepared 
of the roots of a grass called uSira** (Andropogon muricatum) or of sandal 13 . 
Other kinds of paste were prepared from kaleyaka u (a plant producing essential 

i^., VII. 21; M. U., 29. 
2 R/*.,IV. 1 6. 
3 M. 17., n. 

* JC*., III. 5 5- 
6 Ibid. 

R/#.,VL 5. 
'Af. 17., 2. 

fw 8 Sdk., IV., ibid., p. 129. 
9 M. P., 26. 
10 R///.,V. 5; Vtk.^. 121. 

11 Ku., V. 68, VIII. 9; Ragbu., VI. 60, GIL 27, XIV. 14, XVII. 24. 

12 $ak. 9 p. 84. 13 R/#., II. 21. The sandal wood paste was prepared by mixing 
together fragrant ingredients like priyangu, kdlcyaka and saffron and was further scented with 
mrganabhr, musk. 

14 R/#., IV. 5; Ku. 9 VII. 9. 


oil), kdldgurtf* (the black aguru] and haricandana*. Haricandana was a yellow pig- 
ment, perfumed and therefore called candana. Oils were prepared from InguaP 
fruits and also perhaps from manafytiffi (realgar) and haritdld?. Manahtild and 
haritala (orpiment) along with kdleyaka have been enumerated in the Kautiltya 
Arthatdstra* as the three varieties of Tailakarnika (plants producing essential 
oils 7 ). After bath the hair was dried with the fragrant incense of the black agttru*, 
lodhra-dust 9 , dhupcF* and other scented substances (kaseyaP). The body was fur- 
ther perfumed by musk 12 . Men and women applied the tilaka mark on their fore- 
head with a paste made of a mixture of haritdld^ and manahhlii^. Women also 
sometimes applied collyrium 15 to their forehead for tilaka. Unguent 16 was applied 
to the eyes with a pencil (Salaka 17 ). Candana 1 * and kunkumaP (saffron), besides 
being used for tilaka ', were also applied by women to their breasts 10 in order to 
give them a cooling effect. Women painted their cheeks with various foliage 
patterns. This painting as a whole was known as VtSesaka* 1 which was an orna- 
mental arrangement of dots of different colours on the face This arrangement 
when made in the form of leaves was styled as PatraviSesaka** or Patralekha. 
VUesaka was otherwise known as B&aJkti^ which was mainly a beautiful arrange- 
ment of little dots of kunkuwa (saffron) made to ornament the tilaka mark. The 
Amarakofa explains viSesaka as patralekha patrdnguli tamdlapatra tilaka citrakdni 
vihsakanP*. The white aguru^ (sukldguru) zftdrocana^otgorocana* 1 were mixed up 
to make the paste with which Visesaka was painted. This was a white paste 
as its both ingredients the sukldguru and gorocana were white substances. 

1 R/*., II. 21, IV. 5, V. 5, 12, VI. 13; Ku , VII. 15; Ragfa, XIV. 12. 

2 Ibid., VI. 60. 
3 Jtf*., p. 73- 
*Ku., VII. 23. 

5 Ibid. 

6 pp. 653,656. 

7 Arthajfastra' quoted in 'Toilet (Man's Indebtedness to plants) by Ginja Prasanna Majum- 
dar, Indian Culture > Vol. I. No. 4, April 1935. 

RAr., II. 21, IV. 5, 12, VI 13, Ku., VII 15, Hagbu., IV. 12. 

9 AI 17., 2. 

10 R/#., IV. 5, V. 5, 12, VI. 13, M. P., 32; Kit , V. 55, VII. 14; Ragfa., XVI. 50. 
u R///., I. 4. 

12 Ibid., VI. 12; R^M., XVII. 24. i 

13 JC#.,VII. 23. 

15 M?/., III. 5. 

16 Ibid., Ratf*., VI. 55, VII. 8; K*. 9 V. 51; R///., IV. 17. 
R^gA., VII. 8; K*. 9 L 4V> VII 20. 

18 R/w., I. 2, 4, 6, II. 21; Ragbu., XVII. 24. 

19 R//^., IV. 2. V. 9. 

20 Ibid,, I>4, 6. II. 21, IV. 2, V. 9. 
at Att/., III. 5; R^gtor., III. 55, IX. 29; K., III. 33, 38. 
** R/., IV. 5; R^gta.. in. 55, IX. 29; K^., IE. 33, 38. 
2SK.,III. 30, VII, 15. 
** Indian Culture, pp. 660-61. 
. 15. 

VI. 65; XVII. 24. 
., VII. 15. 


Women applied lac-dye 1 (alaktaka) to their lips and then besmeared over them a 
kind of powder called lodhra-dust 2 prepared from the Ipdhra wood which turned 
them yellowish red. The lip-dye was like a wax-solvent to protect the lips 
from the effects of the winter cold. Women dyed their feet with lac and the red 
dye of it applied to the sole of their feet reddened the flights of steps as they 
walked down to the edge of water of tanks 3 . Mdtulunga or bijapuraka* and betel 5 
spices were used to dispel the foul smell of the mouth. The skin of the btjapuraka, 
again, was as much a necessary of life to a ndgaraka or fashionable gentleman as 
were dice, musical instruments, betel-leaves, etc. The Kdmasutra gives a de- 
tailed description of nagarakcfs room and habits. "The Bljapuraka skin was 
chewed to remove all traces of the smell of drink, to prevent melodorous belching 
after a generous meal, to sweeten the breath so that the refined lady coming to his 
embrace might not be repelled by it. These being the facts, one might almost 
infer that to offer Bljapuraka to a lady friend or superior might almost have been 
construed in those days as an offensive libel on her unladylike habits 6 /* 


The looking-glass 7 was an important article of toilet. We are not sure as 
to the metal of which it was made but an indirect reference points to one made of 
a substance like glass or at least polished and made glossy like glass as in use 
now-a-days. While drawing upon a simile Kalidasa has the following: "Like 
a stain caused by the wind surcharged with watery vapour 8 ." Such a stain is 
particularly noticed on a mirror made of glass, although we have a reference to 
a looking-glass made of gold 9 . "In ancient times/* says Gopinatha Rao, "when 
glass was either unknown or was not employed for making mirrors, highly po- 
lished metal plates of various designs were utilised to serve as mirrors. It may be 
remarked, by the way, that this old speculum industry has not yet died out in 
India. In a place called Aramula in Travancore, such mirrors are still manu- 
factured; and the mirrors made by the workmen of this place are so true that they 
do not show distortion m reflection 10 /* As a matter of fact we find on the autho- 
rity of the Periplus of the Erythrean ^ 11 Irdia importing crude glass m the opening 
century of the Christian era. Perhaps it was made as early as the 3rd century 
B. C. m Ceylon. 12 Pliny refers to the Indian glass made of pounded crystal as 
superior to all others 13 . Dr. Acharya in his Indian Architecture refers to nine 

/., III. 5; JC//.,V. 3s. 
,VII. 9;M. 17., 2. 

., I. 5; Ku. 9 IV. 19. VII. 19, VIII. 89; Raght., XVI. 15; M. P., 32; Ma/., III. 13; 
. 1 6. 

B R/#.,V. 5. 

6 "Kahdasa's Malavikagnlmitta\ a Study," The Indian Historical Quarterly ', March 1935. 

7 Raghu., XIV. 37, XVII. 26, XIX, 28, 30; K. 9 VII. 22, 26, 36, VIII. u; SaJk., VII. 32. 
8 R^.,XIV. 37. 

9 Ibid, XVII. 26. 

10 The Hindu Iconography, Vol. I. part I. p. 12. 

11 Translation by Schoff, p. 45, 5 5 6. 

12 Mitra: Antiquities ofOnssa, I. p. 101. 

13 XXXVII. 20. 


alternative measurements of a mirror ranging from 5 or 6 to 21 or zz angulas' 1 . 
The Manasdra says that mirrors should be quite circular (suvrtta) with the edge 
a little raised. The surface must be perfectly bright, the rim should be decorated 
with linear ornaments (rekba) and the reverse with the figures of Laksmi and 
others 2 . After finishing their toilet people looked in it. It was considered 
auspicious as now. 

We have references to the art of toilet 3 , (prasddhanakald and prasddhanavidhi)> 
to toilet-men-attendants 4 prasddhakdh and toilet-maid-attendants 5 (prasddhikdh] and 
even perhaps to a toilet-case 6 . Toilet of the face was known as mukhaprasddhand 1 
and that of the tresses veniprasddhana. The latter may be witnessed in a perfect 
specimen carved out in relief among several panels of a door-jamb preserved in 
the Muttra Museum. The prasddhikd and the toilet-case may be seen sculptured 
in some of the exhibits of Bnarhut and Muttra. The most perfect specimen of 
it may be witnessed in an exquisitely finished piece of sculpture, carved on a railing 
pillar 8 , preserved in the collection of the Bharata Kala Bhavana, Benares. This 
toilet-maid-attendant stands in an admirable pose bearing a case (petika) which 
perhaps was supposed to contain little things such as perfumes, flowers, etc. 

In connection with toilet the Kdmasiitras may be quoted to show a similarity 
of description between Kalidasa and Vatsyayana. "A concrete illustration of 
the art or arts of toilet," says G. P. Majumdar, "may be found in Vatsyayana's 
description of the life of a nagaraka and his wife: 

'The first article in the toilet of a nagaraka is anulepana a fragrant ointment 
ordinarily made of fine sandal-wood paste or a preparation of a variety of sweet 
smelling substances (acchtkrtamcandanamanjadvdnulepanam). He then scents 
his clothes in a sweet smelling smoke of aguru, and wears a garland on the 
head or hangs it round his neck. He uses other perfumes (saugandhikah), and 
a box of scents (saugandhaputikah], is kept in readiness for the purpose. He 
applies collyrium, made of various substances, to his eyes. To his lips he ap- 
plies alaktaka (alaktakam visistardgdrtham), and then rubs them over with wax 
to make the dye fast (sikthakamalaktakam^ Then he looks at himself in a glass 
(drstvddarSe mukham\ perfumes his mouth fey chewing spiced betel-leaves (grhita 
mukhavdsa tdwbulah\ and proceeds to attend to his business (kdrydnyanutisthef). 
He shaves (dyusyam} and during the bath he uses a soap-like substance (phenakah} 
to cleanse his person. 9 "' 

* P . 69. 
2 Ibid. 

*Ma/. 9 p. 50, III. 13; .&*., p. 129; Vik., I; Ku., VII. 13, 30. 
4 Itafe., XVII. 22. 
Ibid., VII. 7; Ktt., VII. 20. 
6 I/at, IV. in. 
'Af^III. 5. 
' 8 No. 100. 

Sadharanamadhikaranam, IV. 5 and 6 pp. 120-21: 

|i See Chakladar, Social Life, pp, 156-157. 



Social Habits 

Kalidasa defines relationship between man and man as one sprung up from 
mere. talk 1 (sambandhamdbhdsanapurramdhuti). The cause of all friendship is 
thus a previous talk between two persons. This gives rise to society. So- 
ciety consists of persons who are either elders, equals or inferiors. Kalidasa 
incidentally refers to the habits of these towards one another. Obeisance was 
a necessary form of accost on the part of a social inferior when he met a supe- 
rior. Generally he hailed his superior by bowing his head, which act 
was known as prandmakriyd?* The person saluting his superior often pro- 
nounced the phrase prandma? vandfi or namaste* Such an inferior threw him- 
self on, or touched, the feet 6 of a respectable superior like the preceptor, 7 mother 8 
or father 9 . The elders and superiors returned the salutations with their bless- 
ings 10 (dtisam). There were many forms of such blessings ; for example, an 
ascetic would bless a king with the words cakravartinam putrawdpnuhi 11 (May 
you be blessed with a son of universal sovereignty 1), and the king would reply: 
pratigrbitanF*- (am obliged) ; elderly Jadies would return a girl's salutation with 
ananyabhdjam patimdpnuhi^ (May you win a husband entirely devoted to you!) 
or a bride's with akhanditam prema labhasva patyuh 1 * (May you command the 
undivided love of your husband 1) Sita raises Laksmana from her feet and 
sends him away with the following words : pritdsmi te saumya cirdya jiva 15 (I 
am pleased with you; may you live long!). At the time of departure from the 
hermitage of a sage, persons of conduct made rounds of the sage and his wife 
as also of the worshipped fire. 16 The elders blessed the parting youngsters 

II. 58. 
a Ibid., VI. 25. 

* Ibid., XIV. 13, 60, XV. 14; Ku., III. 62. 
*R^#., XIII. 72, 77, XIV. 5,71- 

5 Mai., p. 97. 

6 MfuiM^MK*fi: &<*&., VIII. 12, XI. 89, XIII. 70, XIV. 2, 60; SaL, p. 145. 
7R^#.,I. 57- 

s Ibid., XL 7 ;#.,VIL 27. 

R^//.,XI. 4, 5- 

10 Ibid., XL 6, 31; KH., VI. 90; Vik.> p. 137. 
u ^*.,p. 21. 
"]&., IIL63. 
* Ibid., VII. 28. 

15 &#>&*., xrv. 59. 

Ibid., IL 71. 


with the words iivdste panthdnah santu 1 (May your path lie free from dangerslj. 
When brothers and equals met they generally embraced 2 or shook hands 8 
with each other. To those at a distance, words of endeaiment and well-being 
were conveyed 4 (yoga ksemam). 

While talking to an elder or to a socially superior person one slightly bent 
forward and spoke with chosen phrases and polite manners. 5 While request- 
ing something, an inferior joined his hands and then addressed his superior. 6 

family delations 

Family ties .spring up from marriage. We read of very tender bonds of 
family affection. Naturally, since the begetting of a male child was considered 
so very important, he was loved with the deepest affection. When the child 
crawled about on all its fours and then stood up and walked with the help of 
his nurse 7 (dhdtn\ it was a scene for the eyes of the father. When it stammered 
out its first words 8 and sat restlessly in the lap of its father, what a joy the con- 
tact meant to the latter I 9 This is why a parting with the son -was painful and 
brought tears to the eyes of many a royal father, 10 howsoever impassible. The 
death of a son in the life-time of the parents almost killed them. 11 A daughter 
although not so important with regard to inheritance and funeral obsequies, 
was yet the recepient of ample affection from parents, brothers and other kins- 
men. She was considered to belong to a different family 12 to which she was 
added as a wife, and her parting made her parents cry. 13 Act IV of the Sdkun- 
tala is full of such references. 

Of other members of a family we read of brothers, 14 elder and younger, 
loving affectionately, of sisters 15 well cared for by brothers, daughters-in-law 16 
loved by the father-in-law and mother-in-law, of the ideal relations of husband and 
wife, 17 of maternal uncles, 18 of the kinsmen both on the side of the father 19 and 
mother, 20 of uncles 21 and of the affection existing between the father and son 22 , 
and the mother and son. 23 

The children of the kings and nobles were entrusted to the care of nurses 24 
who suckled and fed them and trained them to walk and speak. 25 

' p. 148. 
., XIII, 73. 

* Mat., p. 68. 
5 &#/&#., V. 32. 
Ibid, II. 64. 
7 IbidII. 25. 


Mbid, 26. 
Ibid., XL 4- 
11 &*$*., IX. 78, 

11 <WT f? F*T <nafa ^ $*&> iv. . 

18 Ibid,, Ibid, pp. 133, 136; K#., VI. 92. 
14 aa Common-place. 



Entertainment of Guest (Atithi} 

When a guest arrived, he was treated with singular hospitality. He was 
given the honour of a god and was actually worshipped 1 (arcayitva). Water 
was given to wash his feet 2 and then he was asked to grace a seat prepared of 
cane-weed, 3 After that he was entertained with auspicious offerings like the 
arghyam* a respectful offering or oblation meant for gods, venerable men or a 
son-in-law 5 consisting of rice, honey, durva grass, etc. There were important 
guests like the, kings, nobles and rsis who were treated with especial care and 
honour. 6 When an old acquaintance or friend arrived, he was also received 
with due honour and we read of the Yaksa welcoming his cloud-friend with 
sweet and tender words and with offerings like arghyam and flowers of kutajaJ* 

While walking together with his preceptor and ministers a king paid due 
honour to the formef who was requested to walk in front, then the king follow- 
ed and .thereafter his ministers. 8 The elders were held in high regard and men 
of good breeding were not expected to make the orders of their elders subject 
to queries or criticism. 9 Vinaya or discipline was considered a capital virtue 
and even the king did not use his arrogance to despise his inferiors, and spoke 
mildly to the lowly. 11 This was an outcome of his disciplined education. 12 


The Society of the time of the poet which had the theatre and the intoxi- 
cating liquor to its aid had naturally cultivated almost a Grecian taste in its 
merriments. Wine and flower were the chief aids to this end. Long garlands 
and various cosmetics added to the charms of ladies. Music, which had at- 
tained to a very high standard both in theory and practice, has been expounded 
almost to a trying degree in the Mdlavikdgnlmtra^ Vasantotsava* which was 
supposed to be a fit occasion for staging various plays, 14 also witnessed the merri- 
ments of the intoxicated people all round. During the~ pleasure baths in the 
public tanks women enjoyed themselves to a questionable extent in childlike 
raptures. They beat the water to produce the sound resembling that of tam- 
tams. 16 Joyous ladies, residing in towns, were accustomed to plucking flowers 
and utilizing them in abundance in their toilet. This verse is important inas- 

, T. 55, V. 3, XI. 35; Ku , V. 31, 32. 

2.,p. 37- 

3 K., VI. 53, 

4 J^gfar., XL 69, XIII 66, 70; Ku., VI. 50, Sak., pp 37, 46; Vik , p 137. 

6 Kaghu., VII. 1 8; Ku., VII. 72. 

*fc*, PP- 37, 46, 156, 22; R^gfaf., V. 2. XIV. 82. 

*Af. P.,4. 

8 JLagtw., XIII. 66. 

Ibid., XIV. 46- 
i Ibid., III. 34. 
n Ibid., 25. 

12 Ibid.; also Ibid., X. 79. 
Acts I and II. 

p. 2. 
*M. P., 33; 


much as it suggests an environment in which the mirthful citizen proceeded in 
his enjoyments. We read of beds of flowers and leaves prepared in chambers 
of crttpers." 1 When a king fell to evil ways leaving the ? ff* Irs of the State to 
his ministers and became a servant of Vine and women/ 'of him, cupidinous, 
and living in cc mpany of women, each succeeding festivity richer than its pre- 
decessor, superseded the latter lich in its preparations, in palaces resounding 
with the sound of the nrrdanga/ 2 

Another popular amusement was the springing of coloured water ejected 
through syringes. 3 Dice 4 was a similar game of interest which attracted many 
men. Brys and girls 6 played with balls 6 which rebounded by the strokes of 
the hand, 7 , * 

Swings 8 (do/a) were a corn men means of merriment which people, espe- 
cially we men, enjoyed unmindful of the danger of being thrown 9 away. The 
word used for a swing is dold, and dolddhirohana^ referred to in the passage quo- 
ted below, means "to ride on a swing/ Queen Iravati says : C I wish to enjoy 
the pleasure of sitting in the swing in company with your lordship/ 10 There 
were regular joy-swings in pleasure gardens attached to the mansions of the rich 
as suggested by the passage quoted above. Another passage warrants the exis- 
tence of rooms fitted with swings, 11 and of those meant for other sports 12 


Story-telling was another sort of diversion for the people, who gathered 
together in the evening round the village elders versed in narrating ancient 
romantic tales, and listened to the interesting stones. 13 Thus they generally 
spent their evenings. The details of royal hunt has already been given. 14 From 
the Sdkmtala we learn that on his hunting expeditions the king was accom- 
panied with Yavanis or the Greek female attendants carrying bow and arrow 
and profoundly garlanded. 15 Kautilya, as noted elsewhere, also enjoins upon 
a king to go surrounded by female attendants carrying bow and arrows while 
hunting. Megasthenes 16 found this practice in existence in the royal family 
of Magadha. 

2 Ibid., 5. 

3 3*ffop: FT2^*ZT ^: ft>id., XVI. 70. 
*Ibid.,VL 1 8. 

5 At?/., p. 85. 

6 Ibid., &&*., XVI. 83; JO/., L 29. 
' R^gte., XVI. 83. 

8 Ibid., XL 46, XIX. 44; Mat., pp. 39, 41, 47, 48, 49- 

9 Ma/., pp. 41, 49- 
H> Ibid., II. 

" Ibid., pp. 47. 48. 
" &&*., VOL 95. 
M. P., 30. 

16 McCttndle's Ancient India as Depicted by Megastbews emd Arrian, p. 72. 



Under the social circumstances described in the preceding pages one may 
naturally infer that the morality of the society was not entirely unquestionable, 
yet we find the people described as keeping close to the righteous path 1 as en- 
joined by the holy scriptures, and^the king, himself remaining an untransgressor 
of the prescribed limits, as keepfng guard over the observance of varndframa- 
dharmcfi and chastising the casual offenders. 8 This is why it apparently looks 
difficult to reconcile the righteous people with their common merriments and 
the habit of drinking. 

We have several allusions to courtesans 4 and prostitutes, 5 who, besides 
being accomplished musicians and dancers employed to sing and dance at child- 
birth 6 and such other occasions, were bad characters of the society. The caves 
of the Nicagiri are referred to as becoming fragrant with the anointed bodies 
of the prostitutes 7 who met the distracted lads cf the city in those caves. In 
the temple of Mahakala at Ujjaim they danced holding fly-whisks in their hands. 8 
The employment of courtesans, displaying their various graces and winning 
postures in the temple of Mahakala is remarkable. The dance in Siva's temple 
is similar to one arranged in modern times in northern India in honour of Siva 
in the month of Sravana. It is possible that the custom of employing devadasts 
in the temples of southern India may have descended from that -of attaching 
courtesans to the temples of gods. 

References 9 to abhisdrikds cr adulteresses warrant their existence in the so- 
ciety. A verse says that 'the highway along which the abhisdrikds producing 
inarticulate music from, and lighting the road side with, the anklets, were wont 
to tread, now jackals go.' 10 Rendezvous or secret places of meeting of lovers 
have been alluded to, 11 Such a sanketagrha, as the Mdlavikdgnimitra describes, 
was a verandah erected round an aSoka tree and covered with a roof. 12 Dutts 1 * 
or female messengers, hastening the meeting of lovers at the rendezvous and 
expediting their love intrigues into consummation of love were not wantirg. 
So were extant Satbas^ or deceitful lovers, who apparently loved their w.v< s 
but secretly paid their addresses to other sweethearts. From the Sdkuntala 
and the Kumdrasambhava we learn of love-letters 15 from one lover to another. 

1 Ragb*., I. 17. 

2 Ibid., III. 27, V. 19, XIV. 67; ^3*., p. 162, 

V. 51. 

5;Af.p., s, 35. 

6 Raghu., III. 19. 

7 M. P., 25. 

Ibid., 55. 

Ibid., 37; &&*., XVI. 12, XVII. 69; K#., VI. 43; R///., II. 10. 

10 R*g/&#., XVI. 12. 

11 Ssk. 9 III. 23; Ate/., p. 93. 

12 At?/., Act III. 

18 Ibid., III. 14; &aghu. 9 VI. 12, XVIII. 53, XIX. 33. 

14 Raghu., XIX. 31. 

**.,!. 73; &*., p. 97, HI. 23. 


It was an age when the Kdmasfitras of Vatsyayana were lovingly read, ap- 
preciated and quoted as may be inferred from myriads of indirect references 1 
to them made by Kalidasa. The poet draws freely from Vdtsyayana in his de- 
scriptions regarding love and other amorous aspects. The 6th, 9th and igth 
cantos of the IRjtghwaftifa and the 8th canto of the KuMdrsawbhava abound in 
such allusions. 

Thieves and burglers were not unknown and we read of their several syno- 
nyms in Kalidasa. 

Nevertheless the society was mostly composed of righteous people tread- 
ing the path of righteousness. Chaste wives in the absence of their husbands 
discarded all items of varied toilet and pleasure. They looked at no one except 
their own husband 2 and it was with no mean justification that their residential 
apartments were styled as suddhdnta? i.e. /a pure and sinless harem. Many a 
widow expired 4 on the funeral pyre of her husband for the excessive love she 
bore to him. A man also thought it sinful to look at others' wives ; 5 to touch 
their bodies 6 was indeed a sin beyond all retribution. The proper conduct of 
a man in the presence of a woman is exemplified in the person of Kusa who 
got startled at the approach of the personified Rajyalaksmi and observed that 
the descendants of Raghu were entirely inattentive to the charms of others' 
wives. 7 Others' property likewise was respected and Dilipa refrains from drink- 
ing the milk of Vasistha's cow when offered to him by her without the per- 
mission of her owner. 8 

Furniture and Other Household Necessaries 

With regard to furniture we read of several kinds of seats, viz. thrones, 
high-seats and benches; bedsteads; boxes, etc. Simhdsana* was the throne of 
a king and was naturally costly, made of gold with set gems. 10 T. A. Gopi- 
natha Rao explains it as c a four-legged seat, circular or rectangular in shape and 
one hasta or cubit in height. The four legs of this seat are made up of four 
small lions.' 11 There were other seats made of gold 12 and of precious stones 13 
which must have been the property of the rich. 

u., VL 12-19, 8l VII. 22 (Vatsyayana quoted by the Commentator), VIII. 7, IX. 31, 
3*. 34, 3> 39> 46> 47, XVI. 12, XVII. 69, XVIII. 53, XIX. 9, 18, 23, 32, 33; Kn. t III. 8, IV. 16, 
VL 43, 45, VIII. 1-12, 16, 21, 29, 51; R/#., II. 10,, Mai, pp. 37. 39, 53, 84, III. 14, IV. 14, 15; 
faJk., I. 21. 

*R*gbu. 9 VII. 67. 

8 Ibid, III. r6,VI. 45- 

*K*., VI. 20,33. 

fi S^,p. 164, V. 28. 

Ibid., V. 29, 

7 Ragf>*., XVI. 6-8. 

8 Ibid., II. 66. 
Ibid. s VL 6. 


u The Hindu Iconography, Vol. I. Part I, p. 21. 

w R*t.> VIL 28; F/I, p". 130. 



We also read of beautiful seats made of ivory 1 covered with white 
covers. Bhadrapftha* or Bhadrasana is another kind of seat, "the 
height whereof," says Gopinatha Rao, "is also divided into sixteen 
parts, of which one forms the thickness of the upana or the basal layer, 
four of the jagati or the next higher layer, three of the kumuda, one of the 
pa^tika, three of the kantha, one of the second pattika, two of the broader maha- 
pattika and one of the ghritavari the topmost layer (see PL VI. fig. 6). Bhadra- 
pltha may be either circular or rectangular?." "Vttrasanas* were seats made of 
cane weed and we actually find an example of such a cane chair with wicker work 
sculptured on one of the exhibits of the Muttra Museum, Pithikd* orp'fha, says 
Dr. P. K. Acharya, "is probably corrupted from pi-sad to sit upon, hence means 
a stool, seat, chair, throne, pedestal, altar 6 ." 

Vistara 1 was also an honoured seat, a high seat worthy of a royal household 
as the context in which the word has been used suggests. Besides these there 
were benches and high bedsteads. Manca* was a bench. Dr. Acharya explains 
it as *a bedstead, couch, bed, sofa, a chair, a throne, a platform, a pulpit 9 / There 
were gallery-like structures of these mancas> rising one over the other, like a sta- 
dium with space to w^lk bout .between the rows. Ta/pa w was a high bedstead, 
and so was paryanka 11 . The latter was "of nine 'varieties/ says Dr. Acharya, 'as 
they may be from 2 1 to 37 s ngulas in width with increments of 2 ahgulas 1 V "The 
materials of which bedsteads and seats (asana) are generally constructed are various 
kinds of timber 13 ." Saiyy^ was the cover, bed and bedstead referred to as a 
whole. All furniture enumerated above was almost invariably furnished with a 
cover as white as the colour of a swan 15 . The phrases used for a cover are uttarac- 
chada 1 * and dstarancF. The former appears to have been a bedcover as it has been 
mostly used in reference to a bed or a long seat, whereas the latter was one for 
chairs, cushions and the like. There is a reference to a ceiling-cover also from 
which decorative balls 18 were hung. 

1 Ibid., XVII. 21. 

2 Ibid., 10. 

3 The Hindu Iconography, Vol. I, Part I. p. 20. 
*K*,V1. 53- 

5 MaL, p. 66. 

6 A Diet, of Hindu Arch., p. 349. 
'I//>fc.,p. 1 3 8; Ku. y VII. 72. 

8 &*#&#., VI. I. 3. 

9 A Diet, of Hindu Arch., p. 461. 
"Ra&bu.tV. 75, XVI. 6. 

12 Indian Architecture, p. 62. 
18 A Diet, of Hindu Arch., p. 346. 
"R^#.,III. i5,V. 65, 72. 
VKu., VIII. 82. 

16 Raghu., V. 65, XVII. 21; #., VIII. 89. 

17 R*^*., VI. 4. 

r " 


Of household utensils we read of vessels made of precious metals 1 and gold 2 
plates of metals and of clay 3 . Costly utensils decorated the household of the 
rich whereas the earthen ones that of the middle class. YMmbha* was a big 
pitcher which was used as a huge water receptacle. Ghat a* was a small one 
used for the same purpose. 

Boxes wers also a necessary furniture of the household and have been 
variously referred to as manjfisa*> 'karandaka* \ and tdlarrntapidhdna*. Dr. Acharya 
explains manjusa^ as 'a box, casket, receptacle, a wardrobe 9 / Kalidasa has 
invariably alluded to it in respect of a casket containing ornaments. Karandaka 
was a basket 10 perhaps for carrying articles of toilet. Tdlavrntapidhdna was a 
similar casket. Manjtisd was the largest of the three. Dr. Acharya, details its 
three kinds. It was 'of timber or ixpn/ says he, 'square, rectangular or circular 
generally fitted with three chambers. It had three names corresponding to 
its three kinds, and use Parnamanjusa, Tailamanjusa and Vastramanjusa 11 / 

Then there were miscellaneous articles of daily use like lamps 12 , fans of 
palms 13 and lotus or lily leaves 14 and tents made of cloth 15 . The parasol 16 also 
was an article of daily use for warding off the sun and rain. Every house was 
furnished with a store-room 17 to accommodate various articles of the 

Of conveyances we read the following, viz. syandana^*, caturasraydnam and 
karmrathcr*) besides horses and elephants on land and boats 21 on water, and 
the beasts of burden like the camels 22 , mules 23 and oxen 24 . Syandana was the cha- 
riot used in earlier times in warfare which must have become extinct by the time 
of Kalidasa. Caturasrayana was a litter or palanquin carried by four men. Ydna 

1 Ku., VIII. 75; Ragbu., II. 36, X. 51. 
B^g**.,n. 36, X. 51. 
3 Ibid,. V. 2. 

*Ibid.,lI. 3 6,V. 6 3 ,IX. 73,75,76 
Ibid., XIV. 78, XIII. 34; jtf*., pp. 25, 47. 
/., pp. 73, 87, 104. 
. 217. 
. 121. 

9 A Diet, of Hindu Arch.> p. 463, The word in the sense of a casket has been used in the 
Bhattiproiu Inscription, Nos. I, IV, VIII, Ep. Ind., VII. p. 326-29. 

10 A Diet, of Hindu Arch., p. 1 14 

11 Indian Architecture, p. 69. 

*., V. 37 74; M. 7., 5; Vik. 9 III. 2, 3. 

., V. 74. 
16 J*., III. 1 8. 

"srr^ibid^v. 6. 

M?/., pp. 63, 64. 
18 R^gte., I. 36, 39, 40. 
Ibid., VI. 10. 
Ibid., XIV. 13. 

* Ibid,, L 4, IV. 31, XIV. 30, 52, XVI. 57, 68, XVII. 81; Sak., p. 219. 


was a genera] name for conveyances: it was one of the four kinds of Vastu con- 
sisting of Adika, Syandana^ $ibikd^ anti Ratha. 1 Karmratha was a small chariot 
for driving ladies in, as explained by the commentator (stri yogyo 

Horticulture . 

Gardens were a necessity to the people as they furnished therii with flower, 
the most essential item of their decoration and toilet. Flower served alike the 
daughter of a recluse and the queen of an emperor, as the sole ornaments 
for the former and an adornment of the hair for the latter. And hence it was 
that the art of gardening was cultivated and horticulture 2 (udydnavyapdra) had 
grown to be an affectionate concern of a household. 

We lead of gardens of two types, viz. one attached to a house or a royal palace 3 
popularly known as a pramadavana* and another, a public sort 6 There was a 
specific cultivation of tKe flower garden and the orchard 6 . A garden in the sense 
of Kalidasa often contained both the flower plants as well as fruit trees. A gar- 
den was variously known as upavana 7 , udydna*, etc. Kalidasa has invariably asso- 
ciated a residential house with a garden. According to Vatsyayana's Kdwasutras, 
all decent houses and palaces of kings must have pleasure gardens attached to 
them. "Attached to it," says he, "there must be a vriksavatika (or puspava- 
tika), or a gaiden with wide grounds, if possible, where flowering plants and 
fruit can grow as well as kitchen vegetables <TT 

3, p. 114. In the middle of the ground should be excavated 
either \ well or a tank, or a lake (^ ^srpft stftfT 3T ^sTFT^r)" 9 The 
Upavana Vinoda, a treatise on arbori horticulture, says: "He is verily the king 
whose abode is provided with spacious gardens, containing large tanks or 
pools adorned with beautiful lotus blossoms over which humming bees fly that 
ma)>be regarded as the consummation of all happiness on the part of men, and 
that give intense pleasure to the mind of sportive and pleasure-seeking ladies 
puffed with the pride of beauty 30 ." The conditions and requirements of a garden 
as pointed out by Vatsyayana and Sarrigadhara seem to have, been fully recognized 
by the garden-planters of Kalidasa's time. Gardens were generally laid out 
within the palace and they grew most of the trees, plants and creepers mentioned 
in the chapter on Flora and Fauna. The whole family felt attracted to the garden. 

1 A Diet, of Hindu Arch., p. 517. 

2 M7/.,p. 35. 

8 ^>T^r Ra&fa; XIX. 23; Ate/., pp. 35, 86; Vik., p. 34. 

4 Ma/., pp. 39, 40; $Sk.> pp. 193, i9 8 ; v * k *> P- 34- 
, 6 M. U. 9 8; Rag/to., VIII. 32, XIII. 79, XIV. 30; Mai, V. i. 
,&*., p. 25. 
'M. LJ., 8,Af.P., 23. 
//.,!!. 35, 36. 

Chakladar: Social Life in Ancient India, quoted in the Introduction, p. 17, to the Upavana 

; I It U 


Plants were loved and ladies themselves watered them 1 out of love. To Parvati 
a devadaru had become as dear as her own on 2 . So was also a mandara tree to 
the wife of the Yak?a of the MegbadSttfi. Sakuntala also felt deep affection for 
the plants of the hermitage. 4 . 

The garden was irrigated by means of narrow drains 5 (kulya) full of running 
water with water-fountains 6 as their source These water-wheels incessantly 
threw jets of cool water and thus kept the beds of the garden flooded. 
The circular ditch (dlavdla) round the trees was filled with water 7 . The 
dlavdla was otherwise known as ddhdrabandha*. The Upavana Vinoda- says 
that "during the rainy and autumn seasons when it does not rain one should 
fill the circular ditch under the tree with water 9 ." It must have been % pleasure 
to see the daughters of hermits watering the small plants of the hermitage with 
jars 10 . Perhaps there were special pitchers for watering purposes 11 (secanaghatd). 

The garden contained a tank of water 12 and creepers, specially the madhavi 13 
and the priyangu 14 , with their luxurious spread of foliage formed into fragrant 
canopies and arbours 15 which were fitted with crystalline 16 or other stone slabs to 
sit on. The gardens of the rich were further fitted with artificial hillocks or mock- 
hills 17 (kriddSaila), and with crystalline posts on which the domestic peacock roost- 
ed and disported itself 18 . Swings were fitted there either in the open garden, or 
within a bower 19 or in an open room 20 . Big and shady trees were surrounded with 
a raised and round vedlkd^-. 

Public gardens 22 (nagaropavandK) were generally situated outside the town and 
were hence called by the name of bahirupavand or c a pleasure garden situated out- 

1 Ratf*., I. 51, V. 6, XIII. 34, XIV. 78, $ak., pp. 25, 47, 121. 

2 Ragtot., II. 36. 
S AI 17., 12. 

4 $&k*> pp. 26,' 27. 
e R/7g,{w., XII. 3. 
6 Mi/., II. 12. 
7 Rrf#6#., XII. 3. 

8 Ibid., V. 6. 

9 73- 

10 Ibid., I. 5 1, XIV. 78. 

., XIX. 9; M. U., 13; Mat., II. 12. 

13 M. CJ., 15; M*/., pp. 199, 200. 

14 MMl., p. 38. 

15 &%&*., XIX. 23; $Sk.> pp. 87, 173. 

16 S&k. 9 p. 200; F;/fe., p. 36; MJ/., p. 38. 
"At U., 14; F., p. 54. 

18 M. C7., 16. 

lf M$L> pp. 39, 41, 49- 

Ibid., pp. 47,48, 

81 Ibid., p. 87; S&k.> p. 38. 

82 JfagAtf,, XIV, 34; Af<?/., V. i. Public parks and gardens were provided by the Govern- 
ment (ArthaJ&fra, Sukraniti, l&amandakanlti) for health, recreation and enjoyment of the public 
(Introduction to Upavana Vinoda, p. 2). 


side* (the city). Sometimes they were planted and laid out alongside a river 1 
and ran in rows 2 one after another. 

In the garden often a tree was married to a creeper 3 and the occasion was 
celebrated with great mirth. Dohadcfi or the ceremony of touching the aoka tree 
with the foot of a maiden which caused it to blossom was one of great pleasure 
and gave poets many occasions to elaborate it and weave the threads of their 
love-yarns. Gardeners or udydnapalikas* were appointed to look after the 

Gardens furnished endless enjoyments to theit owners. The creepers pro- 
vided them with pleasure bowers fitted with crystalline benches and beds of flowers 
and leaves where many a love-scene was consummated, into first a rendezvous 
and eventually a Gandharva wedlock, where lovers soliloquized within the hear- 
ing of their beloveds resting uneasily in love agony. It was here that a libidinous 
king retired to pursue his amorous ends having dropped the yoke of administra- 
tion on the shoulders of his ministers 6 . It was here again that the ahka> karni- 
kdra and the mango blossomed, the parrot echoed the sounds around, the cuckoo 
cooed, the peacock danced, and the yuthikd and the mddhavi perfumed the air. The 
most exquisite description of a garden given by the poet is one contained in the 
Vikramowasivfa&Lt, he says, the peacock and the swan strut and hover over the 
fountain to catch the water sprays, where the domesticated caged parrot shouts 
for water, and the bees crowd on the ka^nikara tree 7 . In these gardens seasonal 
birds and bees poured forth their sweet music and aroused the amorous feeling 
of the aesthetic citizens to a height of dreadful rapture. There the citizens lay 
callously tossing on their sides sunk in the reveries of their romances and the lull 
of the soothing slumber of their happy musings on the cool crystalline benches 
fixed in the love-feeding silence * of the most artistically contrived arbours of the 
sweetly fragrant creeper of the madbavi, priyangu and the like. In such solitary 
nooks did the aesthetic citizen of the time of Kalidasa spin the yarn and weave 
the texture of his love-sheet. The picture is one of an incorrigible lotus-eater 1 


1 M. P., 36. 

Ibid., 35- 

3 RMghu., VIII. 61; $ak. y pp. 31, 32. 

4 Ragbu., VIII. 62, 63; M. U., 15; Ate/., p. 54. 
5 MaL, pp. 35, 86; Sak., pp. 189, 193; M. P., 36. 

6 Raghu., XIX. 4. 

7 Vik.> II. 22. 



Kalidasa, as is evident from his works, was a man of great attainments 
and was endowed with an uncommon degree of aesthetic sense He has 
described at length the several branches of Fine Arts. Poetry and 'Drama, 
Music and Dancing, Painting, Sculpture and Terracottas, and Architecture have 
all been described in varied details and an attempt will be made in the following 
pages to give an account of them as disclosed by a study of the poet. Poetry 
and drama have been treated here only in principle as their detailed account is 
given in chapters on Education and "Learning. 

Poetry and Drama 

Kalidasa represents the Augustan age of Sanskrit poetry. His own poetry 
is of the highest order and is the sweetest and most perfect of all that the San- 
skrit literature has ever known. Megkad/lta, a lyrical poem, has charmed the 
world by its simple imagery and romantic melody. The Raghuvamsa and Knmdra- 
sawbhava are two such narratives as have earned universal credit for the genius 
of Kalidasa. The Abhijndna Sdkuntala is an embodiment of the most tender 
feelings that sways the mortals and it marks its author out as one of the foremost 
poets of the world of all times. 

Kalidasa himself recognizes the high worth of his poetry and he inserts a 
pregnant line suggesting that the excellence of a work depends not on its prio- 
rity of composition but on the appreciation that it can elicit from competent cri- 
tics 1 . His attitude towards his renowned predecessor the sage Valmiki is one of 
respectful humility 2 , but his self-consciousness in the domain of poetry and drama 
is more assertive with regard to the classical poets like Bhasa, Saumilla, Kavi- 
putra and others with whose works he appeals for a critical and impartial compari- 
son and is in no way prepared to acknowledge tamely their vaunted superiority 3 . 
There can be no mistake about the implication of his famous verse 4 in the Mdla- 
vikagpimtra in which he makes a reflection on the contemporaneous view of some 
critics who invoked the plea of antiquity and age for their favourite poets. About 
the well established position of these poets there can be little doubt since of 
Bhasa 5 alone we haveiuckily discovered a number of pl'ays which are of no mean 

, I.*. 

MaL>l. z. 



merit. Saumilla 1 and Kaviputra 2 are nothing more than mere names to us, but 
there is no doubt about'the fact that they had established their name in literary 
traditions of the times and were well understood in poetical allusion. 

In the time of Kalidasa the well-cultured {samskdrapfitd) Sanskrit language had 
made a great progress but the simple natural style 3 of the vernacular, i.e. Prak- 
rit, 'was held in high honour. The plays abound in the sweetest and simplest 
expressions of Prakrit; naturally the sphere of Prakrit was wide since it was the 
common dialect, and in the plays it was that dialect which was spoken by the 
characters excepting a few like the king, preceptor, chamberlain, ministers. It 
was the time in poetry when all the vfttis were well cultivated and put to 
practical use during the staging of the drama 4 . 

The stage was busy and the theatre full. A dramatic performance was a com- 
mon feature on festive occasions, 5 like the marriage and the advent of the spring. 
After the rites of marriage were over the period of mirth and merriment ensued 
and something like a dramatic performance was given by maids who entwined 
expressive dance in graceful play and whose eloquent motions with an actor's art 
showed to the life the passions of the htart 6 , and who were further accomplished 
in vfttis like the kautikF. The play entitled the Mdlavikdgnimitra ws staged on 
the day of the vernal festival 8 . 

The dramatic art 9 was held in great honour as is evidenced by the speech of 
Ganadasa, the preceptor of music and acting, who refers to one's hereditary 
lore or kulavidyd while defining this art as quoted below: "Granted that everyone 
of course thinks highly of hi's own hereditary lore; but the great regard I have for 
the dramatic art is not without reason 10 ." The above quotation shows that differ L 
ent families specialized in different branches of art. Dramatic art was supposed 
to be a peaceful sacrifice to the gods (where bloodshed was absent), and divided 
in two different ways by Siva in his body (attended with that of Uma). It was an 
art which aimed at disclosing the human behaviour (life) arising from the three 
prime qualities of Sattva y Raja and Tama, and it was chequered by various senti- 
ments. This ndtya or scenic art was said to be an amusement which satisfied 
the varied tastes of the people 11 . It is interesting to note that this definition of the 
dramatic art is much in keeping with similar ideas regarding its origin which have 
been set forth in works of poetics like the Ndtyasdstra of Bhatata and the DaSa- 
rupaka of Dhanafijaya Here Is a definition of the dramatic art which is remark- 
ably scientific. 

1 Ibid. 

2 Ibid. 

3 Ku., VII. 90. 

4 Ibid., 91. 

5 Ibid., p. 2; F/*.,p. 60. 

7 Ibid. 

8 Kfldtal3 A^-, p. 2. 

9 *TTZ*f Ibid., p. 7. 1. 4. 
* Ibid., p. 7. 

11 Ibid., I. 4. 


In the Malavikagnimitra an intellectual contest between two preceptors of 
music, dancing and acting is held in which the pupils of the respective preceptors 
vie with each other to establish the reputable skill of their teachers: "The two 
preceptors of acting, each eager for victory over the other, who wish to see you 
like two dramatic sentiments in bodily form 1 /' One of the preceptors says that 
he learnt the art of acting from a competent authority (snfirthat) 9 and that further- 
more he had given practical lessons in the art of dramatic representations, and 
had been consequently favoured by the King and the Queens This statement 
also speaks highly of the State patronage of fine arts, particularly that of the 
dramatic art. The following speech further refers to the theory and practice of 
the art. "Let your Majesty, therefore, be pleased to examine him and me in the 
theoretical knowledge and in practical skill. Your Majesty alone is a critical 
judge of us both 3 /' The a^t had attained to the position of a well-defined 
scientific subject 4 . The King, himself an accomplished person, was considered 
an adept in the dramatic art by authorities on acting and was deemed fit enough 
to act as their judge. 

Women, it would seem, were specially marked out in the learning of the fine 
arts and when it was discovered that in judging the performance the king would 
be suspected by the queen of complicity in the intrigue, which might thus be 
detected, Kausikl, a woman ascetic, was approached and addressed thus: "Re- 
vered lady, a dispute about superiority in knowledge has arisen between Gana- 
disa an Haradatta; your reverence, therefore, must occupy the position of judge 
in this matter 5 ." The word PrdSnika is to be noted in this connection. This 
signifies examination. The art of dancing was recognized as one chiefly of prac- 
tical demonstration 6 and although its theory also had considerably developed it 
was not given such importance as its practice. About the cultivation of the art 
it has been said: "One man is at his best when exhibiting his art in person; 
another has as his special qualification in the power of communicating his skill; 
but only he who possesses both these excellences, should be placed at the head of 
teachers 7 ." An exposition of the art of dancing, which was in fact a branch of 
the dramatic art, is thus put m the speech of the Parivrajika. The content of the 
teachers in the Mdlavikdgnimitra in the science of dramatic performance (vijndna 
sarigbarsa*) further brings out the notion of the art. The acceptance of an unfit 
pupil was denounced as want of discernment on the part of the teacher 9 and it 
was expected of him to exercise enough care in the choice of his pupil, for on the 
latter's inherent aptitude for the cultivation of an art depended in a large measure 
the success of the preceptor's efforts. 

1 Ibid., I. 10. 

2 Ibid., p. 14. 

* Ibid,, p. 15. 

* Ibid., 1.4. _ ^ 

* . . ,PMUHiNAVi:.-. . .*nftWIVIW||RKI**Ml i Ibid., p. 17, 


'Ibid., J. 16. 

Ibid., p. 17. 



In the following extract there is a reference to the dramatic art and its founder 
Bharata: "The lord of the gods, with the guardians of the quarters, is desirous of 
seeing to-day the dramatic performance taught to you by the sage Bharata, which 
is the substratum of the eight sentiments, and wherein there is charming acting 1 /' 
The references to Bharata, astarasdfrayah and lalitdbhinayam discussed in chapters 
VI, VII, VIII, IX and X of the Ndtyasdstra show that the great work of Bharata 
on the principles of dramatic art had almost been completed by the time of 
Kalidasa. Kalidasa himself refers to Bharata as a muni thus denoting antiquity as 
regards the time of the author of the NdtyaSdstra. One thing more is to be noted in 
this connection. As this was the first occasion on which the play Mdlavihdgnimitra 
was being staged, as is evidenced by the phrase navena ndtakena 2 , the Abhirfipas 
probably included the PrdMkas or judges of the play. It may be noted that 
according to the Ndtyasdstra of Bharata special officers technically known as the 
PrdSnikas were charged with the duty of witnessing the performance of new dra- 
matic pieces and reporting on their respective excellences to the king who in 
such cases acted as the virtual custodian of the interests of young aspiring poets. 
It may be assumed that the favourable verdict of these judges earned a speedy 
fame for really deserving sons of the Muse and the patronage of the sovereign at 
once got them into limelight. There is distinct reference to these PrdtinktP 
officers in the Mdlavikdgnimitra. 

In the phrase preksdgrhcft we have a reference to the representation or theatre- 
hall. Taranatha, however, accepts a different reading, varnapreksd, in its place 
whkh he explains to mean 'the waiting-room for the actor', 'green room.' 

Before staging the final drgma a rehearsal was given. On the day of the re- 
hearsal, it appears, Brahmins were fed for the auspicious opening of the theatre 
which is borne out by the Mdlavikdgnimitra^ 

This feeding of a Brahmin during a rehearsal or the first opening of a theatre 
refers to a definite social custom. It was customary in ancient times to worship 
the tutelary deity and make presents to Brahmins by way oidafcsind when a person 
was initiated into some art or jastra, or at any inaugural ceremony. Nepathya- 
sevana is another reading of the phrase which means a 'sacrifice accompanied with 
musical' entertainment' performed when a dramatic company was formally de- 
clared open 6 . 

We give below a description of the stage and acting as given by the poet. The 
parivrajika of the Mdlavikdgnimitra while announcing her decision on the perfor- 
mance of the first part fully analyses the performance and brings out its features: 
"The meaning was well brought out by her limbs which were eloquent with ex- 
pression; the movements of her feet (pddanydsd) was in perfect unison with time; 

1 Vik., IL 17. 
8 Mai, p. 2. 
3 Ibid., p. 17. 
* Ibid., p. 21. 

5 Ji j"V *k * X rruirW Jf 

* >||t(SqR|^Ir| 5fJ^f 9)IQJU|t 

r*l *J^I naqi 

I Mdl. 9 p. 30. 

sp^ fW$^Mf*K* I 
6 Ibid., p. 30. 


there was complete identification with the sentiments conveyed; the acting per- 
formed by means of the movements of the hands was gentle, while in its successive 
stages chased away emotion gave rise to another from its substratum; still the 
interest remained just the same 1 *." 

Nepatbyaparigatd* refers to a curtain hanging on the stage. The term used 
for a curtain is tiraskarinfi. The word samhartum* reflects that there were more 
curtains than one, and that the front curtain was rolled up; for the king speaks 
of its being rolled up and not of its removal. Thus there were curtains on the 
stage which were rolled up and dropped down according to the needs of the stage. 
A study of the stage directions makes the above facts clearer still. The phrase 
pravitati dsanastho rdjd 5 contains a stage direction which ordinarily means that 
'the king seated on a throne enters upon the stage/ This would mean a con- 
tradiction for if the king were dsanastha he could not be described as pravtiati. 
We must therefore suppose that the stage knew a certain kind of arrangement, 
suggests Kale, by which the curtain could be removed and the characters dis- 
covered to the audience in various postures. In Kalidasa (also in Bhavabhuti) 
we often come actoss situations with appropriate stage directions which make it 
necessary to admit the existence of a reliable curtain, if we do not want to make 
those situations and stage directions absurd. Pravtfati thus means c is 
discovered (sitting)' when the curtains are rolled up to reveal line. 

There were different types of stage dresses meant for different kinds of parts 
played by the characters 6 of the drama. KauSikI says: "I speak in my capacity 
as a judge. Let the two pupils enter dressed m fine attire, that the elegance of 
movements of all their limbs might be clearly displayed." 7 This particular dress 
was given to those who had to dance on the stage. Among the many styles of 
dress for the stage was the dress of the abhisdrika. She was 'decked with but a few 
ornaments and veiled with a blue silk 8 / She would dispense with such ornaments as 
were likely to produce lustre or sound. She was to walk out clad in dark vest- 
ments so that she might not be recognized by the people who knew her. A third 
kind of stage dress has been alluded to in the hunting costume 9 . The Yavanis w 
the custodians of the king's arms and forming the first row of the bodyguards of 
the king, put on distinct costumes to distinguish them as foreigners on the stage. 
In like manner one acting the part of a mdninl or a wife remonstrating against 
the conduct of her husband, had a special dress, and so had one acting the part of 

a virahiyi> or a munikanyakd or of a woman observing a vow 11 or of one repenting 12 . 


* A/., II. 8. 
a Ibid., II. i. 
a (d<Hr<uft Ibid.; Ibid., II. 11; c^ram &&> P- *o8; V*k.> p. 11. 

., p. 150. 
*i<iTii*n*a<i:. . , .RHktfM'wufl: ^TFTiff: Mai., p. 22. 


"Ibid., p. 224. 

Ibid., VH. 21. 12 Vik., III. 12. 


In like manner the person going out for a hunt wore a distinctive attire, that match- 
ing with the leaves of the sylvan trees, so that he might not be distinguished by his 
prey. He was followed by fowlers carrying nets and a pack of hourds 1 . Thus 
every character had a distinct dress. The king had his own, the chamberlain was 
distinguished by his robe (kancuka) and a staff (vetra\ the ascetics had their 
dress made of tree-skin (valkala), so had Sakuntala and other daughters of the 
recluses, and all who acted on the stage. 

Thus equipped with curtains, proper dresses and superb acting while staging 
the excellent pieces, the stage of Kalidasa presented a picture of ?. considerably 
advanced state in the theatrical art. 


Music may be studied under two heads, popular and technical. We have 
many allusions to both but the latter has been elaborately described. 

Popular music was cultivated exclusively by women . As now, they may have 
picked it up in course of time without any regular training within the house where 
they h? rdly needed any instrument to aid their voc?l music. On festive occasions, 
they had ample opportunities of cultivating the old traditional songs suited to 
the occasion and of picking up new ones from some of their new acquaintances. 
They sang auspicious songs at the time of marriage and songs of glory 2 while 
watching the standing crops. While bathing in a river, they sang and beat the 
water to the tune of their sweet music. 3 

Of technical music 4 there are very elaborate discussions in he Mdlavikagni- 
mitra. We read of music helped by all its six accompaniments. The accompani- 
ments themselves have not been specifically enumerated by the poet. 

Towns resounded with the sound of music and the description of 
the city of Kubera may well serve for a type. The city of Alaka is described as 
resounding with the sound of musical instruments, such as mrdanga, played 
evidently by accomplished ladies 5 . It is the wife of the exiled Yaksa who, in 
the absence of her husband, tries and is repulsed by all sorts of music, instrumental 
and vocal, in her extreme sorrow. She takes to singing the glories of her lord 
to the tune of the vtnd placed on her thighs, although such is her anguish 
that she csnnot pursue it with ease and pleasure; and she forgets even her 
well practised murcchand* 

In the development of fine arts, state patronage was given. Kings 
took much interest in the advancement of fine arts of which music formed a 
most important branch. To the king who had neglected his duties for the 
luxury of wine and women, 7 music indeed became 'the food of love' on which*, 
he constantly fed himself. "On him cupidinous, and living in the company of 

1 Ragbu., IX. 50-51. 

2 R0&K., IV. 20. 

3 Ibid., -XVI. 64; cf. Ibid., 62. Ibid., 13. 

4 Acts I and II. 
6 Af. U., i. 

Ibid., 23. 

r., XIX. 4; i*ir<1UlgUtt Ibid., 5. 


women each succeeding festivity, richer than its predecessor, superseded the latter 
rich in its preparations, in palaces resounding with the sound of the mrdangd" 
At another place too much association with music and its accompaniments on 
the part of a king is made the cause of criticism by his queen 2 . We may note 
that Indumati, the wife of king Aja, was taught fine arts 3 , probably music by her 
husband himself which shows 'the royal house cultivating them. Agnivanja is a 
past master of music and dancing and corrects the courtesans that attend on him 
to the shame of their teachers 4 , and naturally the poet calls him a krti, expert: 

We read of a music hall 5 , which fulfilled the purpose of a dramatic and dancing 
^hall as well, where teachers of the highest order 6 (sutirtdV) imparted scientific 
and technical training in the arts of music, dancing, acting and painting to the in- 
telligent pupils of the royal household. This music hall, which looks like a school 
meant for the inmates of the royal harem, was run at State expense, and the teachers 
attached to the institution drew regualr salaries (vetana 1 }. The poet refers to a 
sangitaracand or concert 8 . Musical concerts were arranged by the teachers of the 
sangitaSdld in which their skill as well as their pupils' was put to test. One de- 
scribed in the* Mdlavikagmmitra, however, was the result of an intrigue In 
the music hall regular classes appear to have been held and exercises given to and 
heard from the lady scholars 9 . 

It was an institution like the satigftaSdld, referred to above, which turned 
oat women with poficiency in the fine arts of music and drama like Mdlai>ikd l > 
Pdrirrdtjikd 11 and sarmisthd 12 . The last named, in earlier days, had attained to an 
unparalleled skill in the branch of music. Her achievement in that art has been 
alluded to by t^e poet in giving her composition (chalika} for a test in acting 13 . The 
treatise written by Sarmistha is a composition in four parts in which the time kept 
is the middle one 14 . This passage incidentally warrants the existence of a trea- 
tise on music by a lady. Sarmistha has been mentioned in the Abhijndna Sdknn- 
tala u as well.. She is said to have composed some musical pieces and laid down 
some rules regarding music. 

There were professional singers also. We read of courtesans 16 employed 

1 Ibid., XIX. j.^ ^ __ 

a 5T? <HH*^q; ffrtft ^41*1 PWWI IfiN'dFtf. , . , Mai., p. 22. 

8 rfa% **nf^ft K*ef*-. vm. 67. 

, 6. 

., . ^ ^ __ 
a 5T? <HH*^q; ffrtft ^41*1 PWWI IfiN'dFtf 

8 rfa% **nf^ft K*ef*-. vm. 67. 

4 Ibid., XIX. 14. 

6 *=PftaSTMT &&> P- 15; Mdl. 9 pp. 4, 6. 

M?/., p ; 14; Ragtw., XIX. 36. 

7 t*mm Mai, p. 17- 

8 Ibid., p. 22. 

WUQCHI'UX^n^W^T Vtk*> p. 

10 TOTfaTO^rfoft 3%, etc -> M*/., p. 8. 

"MlwfllMl Ibid., p. 16. 

Ibid., pp. 21, 24; Sak. 9 IV. 6. 

** fl^JtM frtM'MJiW ***/> P- M> SSfoff 5TR ^TT^ Ibid., pp. 4, 5, 


"Ibid., p. 24- 


. 6. 

f,, III. 19, *ifani Ibid., XIX. 35, 14, i 5> ic); tWT -M J*> 35 


in singing on occasions like the child-birth. This allusion of the poet to 
courtesans dancing and singing at child-birth has been corroborated by Bana 
in his Harsacarita where he gives a graphic description of the birth of his hero. It 
appears that the people called them in, as now, for these performances. They 
were accompanied by their attendants 1 , who perhaps played on instruments of 
music while they sang and danced. 

, Courtesans were employed to sing and dance in the great temple of Maha- 
kala at Ujjaini 2 . . They were regular servants of the temple whose business it was, 
apart from their demonstration in honour of Siva, to act as the bearfcrs of the 
Lord's flywhisks 3 . The interest in music and dancing of certain lay m^n 4 was 
so great and their accomplishment in the art so admirable that when the courtesans 
committed faults in dancing tlry rose and corrected them by a practical show and 
thus put their teachers to shamt 5 . 

The following musical instruments were in use and have been frequently men- 
tioned by the poet: vina* vamsakrtya 1 (incidentally referring to the flute), ventfl (flute) 
mrdangd* with its other names, viz., puskarcP* and murajd^^ turya^, sankha 
dundubhl^ and ghantcfc: Of these the three last named were mostly used m 
warfare. The sankha or conch opened and ended a battle; when it was blown 
at the end of the battle, its sound announced victory to the blower 16 . It was 
also blown for au^picousness 17 . T/Jrya, however, was a musical instrument of 
both peace and war 18 . Venn was a flute; mrdanga^ puskara and muraja were 
kinds of tabor; tfirja was a kind of trumpet, and dunditbhi a sort of kettledrum. 
Sankha was the conch -shell. 

Kalidasa had a good musical ear and a knowledge of the airs of the Indian 
music. He notes the songs or airs composed and to be chanted. He gives 
sporadic indications of his study of the theory of the subtle science 19 of music. 
His women and v*na are almost constant companions. It is, however, strange 
that he makes no specific reference to the ragas. 

1 Raglw., XIX. 14. 

*M.P., 35- 

3 Ibid. 

4 Agmvarna, Ragbu., XIX: Agnimitra, M?/., I. IT. 

u.y XIX. 14* 

., VIII. 3*; AT. P., 45, V. 23; qfonfrft &**., VIII. 35, XIX, 35; 
Ibid., VIII. 41; R/#., I. 8; q^ft R^- I- 3* 

. 12. 

8 Ibid., XIX. 35. 

9 Ibid., XIII. 40, XVI. 13; MaL, p. 21. 

10 &/&#., XIX. 14; Af. 17., 3; MdL, I. 21. 

11 ., VI. 40; M. P., 56; C7., i; M*/., I. 22. 

12 R^te. t III. 19, VI. 9, 56, X. 76, XVI. 87; Vik., IV. 12. 

13 R^#., VI. 9; VII. 63, 64; Ku., I. 23. 

14 IL^#., X. 76. 

15 Ibid., VII. 41. 

" Ibid., 63,64. < 

^ Ibid., VI. 9i XVI. 87. 

^ Ibid., III. 19, VI. 9, X. 76. 

^ Commentator) %/*.,!. 8. 



Nrtya 1 or dance has been cultivated in India from very early times and during 
the age of Kalidasa it had reached almost a height of consummation with its various 
division and details. In his works as well as in still earlier works dancing has been 
associated with stage acting. The parivrajika, while judging the demonstration 
of the two preceptors of actirg, gives an admirable exposition of the art of dancing 
in her following observation. "The art of dancing consists chiefly in practical 
'demonstration (prayogapradhdrKwi*}. She clearly shows that the art of dancing 
was much allied to that of acting and that is why Kalidasa deals with both of them 
as almost a single art. In consequence, a separate study of this art is difficult 
since the affinity between the two, as treated by the poet, is so great. 

Several modes of dancing were practised. And although Kalidasa does not 
give a detailed and specific reference to the kinds of dance, we get, 
nevertheless, a glimpse into the manysidedness of it from what we gather 
from his writings, Thus Ganadasa, the teacher of music, dancing and acting, 
asserts to have taught Malavika the five-limb dance 3 (pan^dngdbhinaya]\ perhaps 
the allusion in this passage can be explained by the Sanojtaratndkara. We 
read of yet another kind of dance known as Cbalika*. It was based on 
the catuspadtfiy \. e. a song of four parts, and it has been reganled as the 
most difficult of dances to be demonstrated 6 . Chalika, as explained by the 
commentator Katayavema 7 , is that kind of dance in which the dancer, while acting 
the part of another, gives expression thereb) to his own sentiments.* 

. 12; Af. JP., 36. 
if ff Ud*KII*q MaL> p. 17; sr*T>T PP* *3> 2I > 2 4> i- 5- SWfofafe pp. 12, 32 

p. M; srftafwR'{ *&&!? io > srafr p- M; sr^rr i''*-> p 60. 

KM., VII. 91; ^Vrfrjot: Wfo^ftf. Ra&h*. 9 XIX. 36. 

, p. 14. 

4 Sjf^F Mat., pp. 4, 5, 6, 21, 24, Dif. reading 
&faw, Ibid., pp. 21, 24. 
Ibid,, p. 21. 

i e^MHiw H<iti 

* A number of Prakrit passages occurring in the 4th Act of Vikramorvati have been de- 
clared to be interpolations by some scholars headed by Mr. S. P. Pandit on the following 
grounds: (i) Six out of the eight Manuscripts collected by Mr. Pandit do not contain them. 
(2) A commentator of the critical acumen of Ka^iyavema does not know them. (3) Dr. 
Pischel's edition of the" Vikramorvafi based on a Dravidian Manuscript omits them. (4) The 
king, when being an Uttamapdtra he should have spoken only Sanskrit, speaks alternately in 
two languages. This would be unnatural. (5) The Prakrit passages alternating with the 
Sanskrit ones are tautological. (6) Many of them, though occurring in the king's soliloquy, 
contain vague descriptive allusions in the third person to some one in his situation and not 
distinctly to himself. (7) They are redundant and several of them obstruct the free flow of 
the feelings expressed in the Sanskrit passages. (Vide Pandit's edition, Preface, pp. 8-9. Kale's 
edition, Notes, p. 92). 

The above grounds are strong enough to drop the Prakrit passages out of consideration. 
They, however, contain some stage directions referring to certain musical. Ragas and Lajas, 
and'to a number of dancing postures, and it may be worthwhile therefore to make below m this 
footnote a succinct allusion to them. 


The art of dancing like that of music was kept alive by "professionals like 
courtesans who have been frequently mentioned. We have already alluded 
to their employment as dancing girls in the temple of Mahakala at Ujjaini. Female 
dancers called nartak 1 ^ and wnin? pursued the exclusive calling of the professional 

Rdga, ordinarily, is a musical note, harmony, melody. But in the later system of Hindu 
music it has been further elaborated. There it is a particular musical mode or order of sound 
or formula. Bharata enumerates six, viz., Bhatrava,' Kausika, Hmdola, Dtpaka, Sfiraga, and 
Megha, each mode exciting some affection. Other writers give other names. Sometimes 
7 or 26 Rdgas are mentioned. They are personified and each or the six chief Rdgas is wedded 
to 5 or 6 consorts called Ragiws. Their union gives rise to many other musical modes. Ragtw, 
thus, is a modification of the musical mode called Rdga. Some 35 or 36 Ragints are enumerated. 
Laya is the perfect harmonious combination of nrtya, gdna and vadya (dance, yocal and instru- 
mental music, spj miqq explains the Amarakofa). A Dvtlaya is a double such. Laja, 
time, a kind of measure, has been given three kinds, viz., druta^ 'quick,' tnadhya^ 'mean or mode- 
rate,' and vilambtta, 'slow', ^ft TOt PHfkkm *PT: I *T fafWt W. com.). 

The following kinds of musical airs or tunes and dance have been mentioned: j^kstpfika, 
which is a kind of song sung while an actor is approaching the stage and is accompanied 
with dancing and the musical marking of time with the hands (Bharata gives its definition 
thus. (^^rMgrfcdMH ^T^^ftnjflmT I SflfSTfonFT tKM4lftdl TPRfT *$> 1 1 ); DvipadJ, 
which is a type of song and is of four kinds, viz., Suddhd, Khandd^ Afdtrd, and sampurnd (sjgr 
^T^T ^ HMI ^ ^rfffif "^ dfy^T I Bharata); Jambhahka^ another kind of song m which each 
line is sung once or twice and no pause allowed between the chorus and the next line; 
Khandadhard, which is both a kind of dance and an air in music ( ^ptw *fi^*JT ^T )j Carcart, 
which is a strain sung by an actor or actress under the influence of passion and in a tone either 
low, middle or of the'highest pitch (5^Tr?rnT ^nf^H q^T ^'HRT?^ *fr I 

TT rfdH^I ST^nTT % "sHKt II Com). Ehmnaka y which is the name of a musical mode ( 71^1%^': ) ; 
Khandaka or Khandikd, which is a kind of song sung with particular gestures; Kkuraka> which 
is a particular kind of dance (qiH^PKHI^R^" ^ ^d^^^^H 3c9r*J3WT | srRiaM^n ^T *f^Tf ) ; 
Valantikd) a kind of Rdga, which is sung in accompaniment with a distinct mode of gesticula- 
tion; Kakubha, again was a kind or Rdga ( ^il'H IMi^4t^i c l^4^^'' ) J Vpabhangdb, are the 
several divisions of a song; Kufthkd and Mallaghafi are kinds of dance of which the former 
is danced without the help of a Raga but in accompaniment of a particular pose and gesticula- 
tion called Ardhamattait (the Ardhamattali posture is explained as ^H^lH^dV TT^t H*^iff%cr 
^F^; I 3>d*JH rA l.') ; Galitaka is another distinct type of dance and gesticulation. Besides 
these a number of other dancing postures and acting gestures have been mentioned like 
the Catutasraka, Ardhacaturasraka y Si "kanaka, and Vdmaka, as also modes of dancing by fall- 
ing on the knees (^TRVqt (V^ I ) or acting with hands joined, 
u. y XIX, 14, 15, 19. 




Kalidasa furnishes us with vivid accounts of the artistic activities of his 
times. He has dwelt extensively in his works on the various branches of fine 
arts including painting, architecture, sculpture and &e terracottas. An attempt 
is made in the following pages to examine the data furnished by him on these 
topics. Architecture, however, will be treated in a separate chapter. 

"Personal 'Embellishments 

There is ample evidence 1 in the works of the poet to show the high level to 
which his times had reached. The development of an aesthetic sense is warrant- 
ed by the incidents of everyday life of the people. Men kept long hair and dried 
the wet hair with fragrant incense of ajp/ru in the manner of women 2 . They 
anointed their bodies before bath with Various sorts of cosmetics 3 of which the 
chief were the angaraga and haricandana. Both, men and women, were great 
lovers of ornaments 4 which they put on freely and eagerly. They were fond of 
flowers, which women particularly loved and used in place of metal and jewelled 
ornaments 5 and the blossoms of which they stuck in their hair 6 and knit in their 
tresses 7 . Women wore garments of different hues 8 . The items of their toilet 
were strikingly modern in their tone and spirit. - The cosmetics which they used 
are strong etiough to conjure up images of the Parisian women with their pictures- 
que paints and odoriferous powders. They applied the lac dye, (a kind of red dye 
said to be obtained from the cochineal insect and from the resin of a particular 
tree), to the soles of their feet, 9 and the tilaka mark to their forehead with the 
black sandal of musk 10 and ornamented it with dots of collyrium 11 . They 
painted their face with dots 12 of different hues. Cheeks were decorated with 
picturesque figures of tiny leaves 13 . Eyes were adorned with unguent, and 
lips 14 reddened by the application of the dlaktaka paint. The latter were further 

#. VIII. 67; ^TT A/., p. 95. srftrmfrWT Ibid., IV. 9; Vik., II. 17. 
2 R^.,IV. 5 ,V. 5, 12. 

3 Vide ante. 

4 Ibid. 

7 Ibid. 

8 Ibid. 

9 Ibid. 

10 Ibid, 

11 Ibid. 



besmeared with the lodhra powder 1 which turned them yellowish red. Thus 
women applied several methods of decoration to beautify their person and to dis- 
tinguish themselves as ladies of taste. 


Numerous references to the art of painting and its various branches of 
landscapes, portraits and frescoes prove the fact beyond doubt that the age 
of the poet had made astonishing progress in that art. We shall see presently 
that he alludes to frescoed \yalls and doors and interiors of houses, caves of moun- 
tains lit up at night by phosphorescent herbs abounding in the vicinity, painting- 
halls (studio, schools) run with the aid of the state,portraits of monkeys and men, 
magnificent landscapes, admirably planned sketches, various colours, and to 
painting boards and a box of brushes. 

Citraala 2 , the hall of paintings or studio, referred to in the Mdlavikagni- 
mitra? formed part of the sangitagala, the institution where music, dancing and 
stage acting were taught. There a picture gallery was also kept where pictures ' 
were hung 4 and numerous colours were prepared and used. To such a hall queen 
Dharim goes where she appreciates a painting the colours of which are not yet 
dried up 5 . 

Presto "Paintings 

Mural paintings in residential houses 6 weie a common feature of the times and 
Kalidasa makes innumerable references to them. These may well illustrate the 
example of paintings in caves of mountains of which we have hundreds strewn 
over the ridges of the Western Ghats. The frequency of allusions to fresco paint- 
ings strongly suggests that the poet had a first hand knowledge of, and access 
to them. The famous caves of Ajanta, some of which were cut as early as the 
second century before Christ existed there. Later caves, many dating from 
the opening century of the Christian era and later, were excavated only a few 
centuries prior to his existence. Some of the later caves might have been 
excavated even during the epoch in which he lived and it is possible that he might 
also have paid visits to the glowing frescoes of Ajanta when some of them 
were in the process of being finished. 

We read of the walls of palaces and houses 7 being decorated with paintings. 
Mention is made of paintings adorning the courtyards 8 of the houses which were 
occasionally blurred by the clouds Entering the windows and moistening them 9 , 

1 Ibid. 

TflT ^t Ma/., p. 5, 

8 Ibid. 

f Ibid., p. 5. 

., xiv. 15, 25; qfa&i: srrai^r: M. [/., i, 17, 

; XIV. 15 ^psnj fa*Mr$ 2 5 Ufa^T: M'ltfKi: M. 17,, i. 

-9 xvi, 16, 




when the houses happened to be situated on high mountains. It is not quite 
clear whether these paintings were on the walls or on the floor of the courtyard. 
But as we find several references to floors being as transparent as crystal, it 
appears that the paintings alluded to were on the walls surrounding the courtyard. 
The main gate of the house was painted with figures of the auspicious rainbow, 1 
lotus and conch-shell 2 . There were frescoes in which pleasure ponds were painted 
displaying elephants, who, while entering into the spread out forest of lotuses, 
were oeing presented with pieces of lotus stalks by female elephants 3 . This 
particular painting is an interesting piece as we come across 'an amazingly 
similar one painted in the cave no. 17 of Ajanta. 


We have sever?! references 4 to portraits 5 (pratikrti) sketched and painted. 
We read of a wife, separated from her husband, employing herself in the sweet 
occupation of painting a portrait of the latter 6 as the idea of his person presen- 
ted to her mind's eye (bhavagamyam*}. The Yaksa of the Meghaduta drew the sketch 
of his wife's figures in the form of a wife pretending anger against her husband 8 , 
on the boulder of a rock with a piece of geru. Urvasi is said to have been por- 
trayed in the Vikraworvdsfi&nd. Malavika is shown as painted in a picture m the 
Malavihdgnimitra. There is a reference to a portrait compared to another in 
which a monkey had been portrayed 11 . 

There are complete plans of portraits sketched and of those proposed to be 
sketched. A rather detailed account of the same may be given below. The 
height of success achieved by the Indian painter can be well imagined from a 
passage occurring in the speech of the Vidusaka in the Abhljndna Sdkuntala which 
refers to the representation of various human feelings and sentiments of fear, curio- 
sity and the like along with the feeling of exhaustion shown by representing loose 
hanging hair and the little drops of perspiration 12 on the face. A concourse of 
sentiments 13 were portrayed. The excellent portraying of feelings 14 has been 
commended in a passage. Dusyanta complains that in the portrait of Sakuntala 
before him, through the process of being painted, want is yet felt of a knot of the 

ti V4 Rr&Tn '"i HUMI ni vl i Ibid., 12. 
2 Ibid., 17. 
8 &$&*., XVI. 1 6. 

4 *Aftf/., II. 2* pp. 5, 6, 12, 73; Ragbtt., XV1IL 53; Af. t/., 22, 42; Sak^ pp. 199, 200, 208, 
210, 218, VI, 18, 30, pp. 213-14; Vtk., p. 42, 

B STfafTfif R^., XVIII. 53; ,fe*., pp. 200, 218; Mak., pp. 12, 73; K/A., p. 42. 

Af. L/,,22. 

7 +<<*ii<|W K 

8 ywi^ftfli Ibid.* 42. 

D P-4*. 
> 5. 

11 , p. 27. 

PP- 209-10. 

18 <HN4fa^fa<|fafad VT flfcff ^T Ibid., p. 15. 
" Ibid., p. 208, 


hair over the ears, of sirisa flowers sticking to the ears and touching the temples, 
and of the thread of the stalk of lotus reposed between the breasts 1 . It is other- 
wise proposed to fill the background of this picture with kadamba trees of the 
hermitage 2 . Another reference is made to a portrait in which Sakuntala is por- 
trayed standing with her hand holding a red lotus and warding with it the attack 
of a bee off her lips 3 . 

Group Painting 

Like portrait painting, group painting had also reached a high stage. We 
read of three persons 4 painted in a group m which all the individual figures are 
commended for their excellent finish 5 . Sakuntala stands in a group portrait, 
her hair knots getting loosened and the flowers stuck in the hair falling, and 
drops of perspiration decorating her face. She is portrayed slightly tired under 
a mango tree full of new leaves, and by her side are seen her friends 6 . Another 
similar group portrayed Malavika 7 close to the queen surrounded by her 
attendants 8 . 

Kalidasa refers, besides the above, to landscapes representing masterly skill 
in its planning and imagination. The following is the theoretical sketch of a 
picture proposed to be finished: "The river Malinl is to be drawn with pairs 
of swans resting on its sandy banks; and on both sides of it are to be painted the 
sacred adjoining hills of the Himalayas, with deer reclining on them; and under 
a tree, displaying bark garments suspended from its branches, I desire to repre- 
sent a doe rubbing her left eye on the horn of a black antelope 9 ." Here is a re- 
markable sketch from which a perfect landscape can be finished which will very 
well show to what an extent the art of painting had advanced. _ Another allu- 
sion reflects on a possible landscape in which the evening is depicted with the 
sky filled with an endless concourse of clouds of several colours as an effect of 
the touch of the brush 1(v . 

Materials for Painting 

Let us now turn to the technique of the art of painting. Kalidasa 
mentions the following articles needed in painting of picture: salaka 11 , vartika 1 *, or 

1 $ak. 9 VI. 1 8. 

2 *rr<sflM . . . "fl^r: Ibid., p, 212. 

3 cfT4il| 4j\ : . . . T^r !S PT: Ibid., pp. 2i3- r i4. 

4 fdflWI TRczft <rt*|3 Ibid., pp. 209-10 

5 l p- 

6 WeHlfafa I^d., pp. 209-10. 

7 fa*HMI*H . . . STRTSTSTfr^T Ma/ , p. 5 . 

8 Ibid., p. 5. 
Jta.,VL, 17. 
K*.,VIII. 45. 

11 KM., I. 47, 24; Ragbu., VII. 8 (used for a different purpose). 
*., XIX. 19; Kx., VIII. 45. 


tulika 1 , lambak&rca^i citraphalakcfi, varna* and ragaf and vartikakarandaka*. Salaka 
was a pencil with which the sketch or outline of the picture was drawn. Vartika 
or tulika was the brush, as was also the kurca. But perhaps there was^a difference 
between the two,"vartik5 or tulika and the kurca, inasmuch as the latter had a 
sharp split point serving for an actual modern paint-brush while the former 
was a blunt pointed pen. Of the brush (kurca) itself there might have been two 
kinds, a long and a short one, as the expression lamabakurca a long brush 
suggests* Citrphalaka was a painting board on which a picture was painted. 
Varna or raga was the colour used in painting. We read of several colours 'n- 
cluding red, yellow and green 7 used in painting a picture. Vartikakarandaka 
was a paint-box containing the brushes, and also perhaps colours and other auxi- 
liaries required for painting a picture. 


Dyes, it seems, were used with much discretion. Several colours were 
used for this purpose. In reference to colours 8 the poet remarks in the 
YMmdrasambhava that the beauty of a picture is much enhanced by the application 
of colours 9 . In the picture gallery of the hall of painting mentioned in the 
Mdlavtkdgnimitra, the queen sat examining the pictures finished in a multiplicity 
of colours which were still fresh 10 . 

The popularity of the art of painting was so great that its cultivation had pene- 
trated even the forests where it was pursued in hermitages by the daughters of 
hermits. We read that when Sakuntala was preparing to leave the hermitage of 
Kanva for her husband's home the rsikanyas, who had never seen the use of gold 
ornaments, learnt the proper position of ornaments through their acquaintance 
with paintings 11 and decorated the person of Sakuntala after their manner. 

The cultivation of the art of painting was not only a diversion and Kali- 
dasa makes it as important as the pursuit of yoga. It has been enjoined upon a 
sculptor 12 that before starting on carving out an image he must sit for a long while 
absolutely lost in contemplation of his theme and he shall proceed to fashion and 
finish it only when it has appeared in a vision during his contemplation exactly 
in the posture he wants to sculpture. If the composition turns out a failure, the 

1 K*. 9 1. 32. 

2 Safe., p. 212. 

3 Ibid., pp. 199, 208, 210; ViJk. y p. 42. 

4 ?>., p. 216, 

AW/., p. 5. 
8 ,fofe., p. 217. 
7 1C*,, VIII. 45. 


p. 5 

Aft., p. 151. 

12 "The" characteristic .of an image is its power helping forward contemplation and joga. 
The human. maker of images should therefore be meditative. Besides meditation there is no 
other w^y of knowing the character of an image even direct observation (is of no use)." 
S*knafiti 9 Ch; IV* Sec. IV, 147-50. 


failure must be attributed to a slackness in the contemplation of the artist. 
dasa almost uses the same expression and refers to want of contemplation on the 
part of the artist before commencing his work in the Malavikagiimitra 1 . The 
king has seen Malavika in a group picture. Her extraordinary beauty wins him 
over. He is struck by her uncommon- charms and suspects exaggeration on the 
part of the painter. But when Malavika appears before him in person and her 
form surpasses in beauty the one portrayed in the above mentioned picture, 
the king is taken aback and he remarks: "When she was only a picture to me, 
my mind apprehended that her (real) beauty might not come up to that of the 
picture; but now I think that the painter, by whom she was drawn, was slack in 
his contemplation 2 ." The expression, sitfalasamddhi, refers to the slackness 
of contemplation on the part of the artist which is the reason of the remarkable 
difference between the charm of the real person and that of her portrait. 

With the material of painting mentioned above and the excellent theory of 
representation coupled with a rich imagination the Indian artist could give the 
k fullest expression to human thought and feeling. 


Comparatively fewer are the direct references to sculpture but indirectly 
the poet echoes the trend of his times in the field of sculpture through scores of 
phrases which present a concrete picture and conjure up visions associated with 
several pieces now exhibited in the museums of India. We shall first deal with 
such allusions as have a direct bearing upon sculpture. In course of the de- 
scription of parts of a palace the poet says: "The peacocks dull, on account 
of the slumber coming over them at nightfall, perch on their roosts as if they 
were sculptured figures 3 ." 

Carved Peacock 

The word utkirna means 'carved out/ probably in basso relievo. In 
the description of the deserted city of Ayodhya in the Raghuvamsa we 
read of images of women carved in high relief (basso relievo) on posts, 
evidently railing pillars, of a palace. "The slough-strips,^ says the poet, "left by 
cobras become, on account of their contact with (the breasts) a covering on the 
breasts of the images of women carved on posts which have a dusty appearance 
and the lines of colour on which have been disfigured 4 ." 

Female Relief on Railing Pillars 

Here is an allusion to painted figures in high relief. .Both of 
the above references have their excellent examples in the sculptural pieces of 
the Muttra Museum. A beautiful image of a peacock carved in the round is 
preserved there 5 . Similarly a whole section of the Museum is ~ represented 

2. * Ibid 

8 Vik HL*. 

II Raglw. 9 XVI. 17. 

6 Muttra Museum exhibit no. 466. cf. Kumari on peacock, ibid., no. R. 104 


by the images of the Kusana Yak$is carved in high relief on railing pillars which 
are such a harvest of artistic masterpieces fashioned and turned out ki the ate- 
liers of ancient Muttra. The description quoted above may convince one of the 
fact that no poet however great and rich in his imagination could have 
brought this grand picture to our mind's eye unless he had himself been 
influenced by these iconic wonders of ancient Muttra. The temptation is irresis- 
tible to conclude that Kalidasa had visited Mathura and seen these railing pillars 
and the remarkable subjects of their composition >&hich form the pride of tfee 
Muttra Museum today. The earlier type of the railing pillars can be witnessed 
in the admirable specimen of Bharhut. The poet further refers to the 
icons of Ganga and Yamuna carrying flywhisks 1 . 

Images of Ganga and Yamuna 

The beginnings of the representation of these two river godesses 
as cauri-bearers of gods in sculpture mark the later stages of the 
Kuana and early stages of the Gupta art. Ganga and Yamuna stand 
on crocodile and tortoise, their respective symbols abounding in their 
waters, and waive or carry the flywhisk. Such images have been found and 
exhibited in the Muttra Museum 2 . Another specimen may be seen at Elora. 
The Hindu renaissance under the Imperial Guptas after the supremacy of 
Buddhism had brought about a Brahmanical revival in art and sculpture also, and 
side by side with the Buddhistic images there started an era wherein the repro- 
duction of the images of the gods of Hindu pantheon became growingly marked 
and prolific. The enlarged Hindu pantheon itself proves that the innumerable 
number of idols was meant for some purpose for being installed in temples. The 
poet mentions several images (prattMa] of gods 3 (devapratimdtt) and other iconic 
compositions 4 (murtimantam). He also specifically refers to the carved images 
of certain Hindu gods besides those of Ganga and Yamuna mentioned above. 


The image of Brahma was being chiselled and fashioned with the Puranic four 
faces 5 (caturmurteh^ dhatdram sarvatomukham). The most vivid description of 
an image given by the poet is that of Visnu ( . . . . mifrtiWt h} for which 
he even enters into the domain of technical iconography. In course of 
a few verses a complete figure is brought out. * 


Vinu rests on the body of the serpent Sesa and under the circle 

i *> vn. 42. 

hibit No. 1 507 of Ganga from Maholi and No, 2659 of Yamuna from Katra Keshavadeva. 
There is another such Yamuna figure bearing No. 5563 preserved in the Lucknow Museum. 
It has been reproduced in fig. 3 . Plate 46 of Vincent A. Smith's Jaina Stupa and other Antiquities 
from Kankali Ti/3, Matbura* The reverse of the tiger type of Samudra Gupta's coins show 
Gariga* holding a fillet and lotus (cf. Allen, p. LXXIV, B. M. C). 
&&*., XVI. 39, XVII. 36. 
Ibid,, XVII. 31. 

of its hoods 1 bhogibbogd 'sand 'swam. His consort Laksm! sitting on a lotus 
and covering with her silken robe (undergarment) her girdle, holds his 
feet in her hands placed on her lap 2 . This god whose characteristic 
symbol-is his Srlvatsa 3 wears the Kaustubha gem on his broad chest 4 . This 
description is verily an imitation of an image. It is interesting that the poet 
uses in his description of this image the word vigraba^ which means an idol. 
The image is completed by association of further symbols, namely kirtta* (daidem), 
jalaja (conch), cakra y gadd^ ?nd sdfriga 1 (bow instead of the usual padma, lotus). 
He is further attended by Garuda 8 (eagle). In another picture presented by the 
poet, Visnu with his Kaustubha gem is attended by Laksmi bearing a lotus fan 
in her hand 9 . The important features of the description is that the poet calls 
the symbols, named above, the characteristic signs 10 (Idftcchitd) by which the 
images (mtirtibbiK) of dwarf Visnus are recognized. These symbols have been 
mentioned, it may be noted, in the iLrimurtilaksanavidbdna^^ a treatise on icono- 
graphy. Besides, with these iconic features any im?ge of Visnu in both the forms 
reclining en the Sesa, or standing, may be identified in an Indian museum. Tn- 
murti 12 , which Kalidasa mentions, is a composite figure with three heads of 
Brahma, Visnu and Siva, 2 commonplace image in the iruieums. We read 
another reference to a sculptural piece in which the image of radiating moon 
encircled by lotuses 13 was carved. 

Here we must remember that with an Indian sculptor the act of image car- 
ving was a sacred one and he was enjoined upon first to sit in contemplation of 
the theme of his proposed piece and to proceed to fashion it only when its vision 
had come to him in contemplation. The Sukramtt 1 * says: "The characteristic 
of an image is its power of helping forward contemplation and Yoga. The human 
maker of images should therefore be meditative. Besides meditation there is 
no other way of knowing the character of an image even direct observation 
(is of no use)." Kalidasa reiterates this idea and the failure of an artist he attri- 
butes to his want of contemplation (sitbilasamddh'i} which point we have fully 
discussed while treating of painting. 


An interesting reference to terracottas may be given below. The son of 

1 Ragfm., X. 7; ftfitfctMOTT qWT^STT^ K*.> VII. 43 

2 Ragbu. 9 X. 8. 

3 ft^^TOTf Ibid., XVII. 29. 
4 Ibid., X. 10. 

6 Ibid., X. 7. 
Ibid., VI. 19, X. 75. 

7 Ibid., X. 60. 

8 Ibid., 13,61. 

9 Ibid., 62. 

10 Ibid., 60. 

11 Ch. LI. 

12 Ku., II. 4. 

13 <rav3TFrr TT TOT*af srfifiTO^pT *g**., vn. 64. 

14 Ch. IV. Sec. IV. 147-150. 


Sakuntali plays with a coloured clay-peacock 1 (varnacitrito mfttikamay$ral>\ 
The same has been again commended for its colour 2 (sakuntalavanyam). We have 
lots of terracottas unearthed from ancient sites representing birds and animals 
meant to serve as toys. They mostly bear a red slip or a black or ochre paint which 
is nothing but the varnatitrana of the present terracotta piece. A beautiful large 
terracotta peacock is actually exhibited in the Muttra Museum. It is significant 
that with regard to Bharata's hand Kalidasa uses the phrase jdlagrathitdnguhh 
karafi, i.e. webbed fingers. Sculptures and terracottas with webfc>ed fingers are 
amazingly rare and those that are extant date from the Gupta period. The 
Mankumyar stone Buddha preserved in the Lucknow Museum is a case in point. 
'It has webbed fingers on both the hands. 

Now we shall discuss the indirect evidence with reference to sculpture. We 
must note that the Sanskrit literature in the field of classical kavyas tended to spe- 
cialize in the art of poetical suggestion so much so that there grew up a regular 
branch of suggestive poetry. Kalidasa is supposed to be a master in the sugges- 
tive (dhvani) art. Where he does not directly refer to a particular sculptural 
image, he actually indirectly expresses it by giving a complete picture of it. And 
if we care to read between his lines we shall get innumerable allusions to sculptural 
masterpieces the likes of which are deposited m most of the Indian museums and 
be able to identify them without difficulty. We shall attempt to discuss the same 
in the following pages. 


The poet refers frequently to prabhamandalcfi and chdydmandald*, halo, and 
to sphuratprabhdmandala*) radiating halo. It should be noted that actual represen- 
tation of halo in the sculptural art of northern India dates mostly from the 
Kusana period of Indian history. During the later Kusana and early Gupta 
period the halo takes a recognized form and becomes a striking feature. The 
earlier chatra y umbrella, itself, which had been shown behind the big images and 
had been raised over their head, becomes the halo of the Kusana and Gupta ima- 
ges of Buddha. The chatra tradition is almost lost and its place is taken by the 
halo represented by a flat chatra attached to the image itself and rising from the 
pedestal behind its back and head. Unlike the earlier chatra it has no danda. 
Such haloes with decorative figures of flowers and birds on their margin and sur- 
face may be seen rising behind several images of the Buddha and Bodhisattva 
preserved in the museums at Muttra 7 and Sarnath. 

&*-, P- *43 i*<^r Ibid., p. 247; iTSr^C: Ibid., p. 248. 

Ibid., p. 243 wjtt4H<ui Ibid., p. 247, 

3 Ibid., VII. 16. 

* fegfa., XV. 82, XVII. 23; KM., VI. 4, VII. 38. 

* Ibid., IIL 60, V. 5 1, XIV. 14; K*. f L 24* 

'Exhibit Nos., AJ, A. 2 (broken), A. 45 (broken), B. i. A. 5. 

CttAWER Kill 139 

Karttikeya on Peacock 

The conception of a Maytirasraytguha 1 , Karttikeya riding a peacock, is as 
patent in Kalidasa as in sculptuie. We have a very realistic specimen of Kart- 
tikeya riding a peacock with its wings spread out in full maridala exhibited in the 
museum at Muttra 2 . A large replica of the same m terracotta has already been 
mentioned. The representation of the Karttikeya riding a-peacock model had be- 
coqie so dear to the Indian sculptor of the tpoch of Kalidasa that we find the arm- 
lets (keyura) decorating the arms of the Bodhisattvas 3 , particularly marked on 
the torso no. A. 46, of the Kusana period (exhibited in the Muttra Museum) 
fashioned almost invariable after the dancing peacock, ^ And with the poet 
himself the armlet is a favoured ornament 4 . 

Armlets and Girdles 

Kalidasa has described waistbands and girdles frequently 6 and we 
witness endless varieties of broad girdles on the images of the god- 
desses 6 carved in the later Kusana and early Gupta period. The armlet 
and the girdle seem to have been a specialization of the Gupta age as we 
find endless references to them and to their numerous varieties in both 
the literature and sculpture of the period. In like manner the falling locks with 
ringlets of hair, alaka 1 , are such other characteristic symbols in the identifica- 
tion of Gupta images and terracottas. The Gupta Siva, now worshipped at 
many places at Muttra 8 , has locks with ringlets falling about and away from the 

Locks of Hair 

The terracotta female statuettes of the Gupta period have such picturesque 
locks and ringlets falling from the head. Several such pieces were recently dis- 
covered from an inhabited mound of the Gupta period known as Mason about 
half a mile east of Aunnhar (Dist. Ghazipur, U. P.) and about a mile and a half to 
the north-west of Saidpur Bhitari, the site of the victory pillar of Skanda Gupta 

Data Regarding the Sculptural Physique 

We may also in this connection refer to the striking similarity between 
the physique of the carved specimens of Gupta sculpture and that por- 
ttrayed in the penpicture of the poet. Kalidasa dwells fiequently on the descip- 

.> VI. 4. 

8 Exhibit no. 466. 
. 8 Torso, A. 45, A. 46. 

* RtgfHt., VI. 14, 53, 68, 73, VII. 50, XVI. 56, 60, 73; R/*., IV. 3, VI, 6; M. P., 2; 
III. 10, VI. 6; F/A.,p. 15- 

5 Mai, pp. 28, 59, III. 21; Ratfw., VI. 43, VII. 10. VIIL, 64, XIII. 33, XVI. 65, XIX. 25, 
26, 27, 41, 45J to-, I- 37, 3 VIII. 89, 35; R/#., I. 4, 6, II. 19, III. 24, IV. 4, VI. 3, 24, 43. 

6 Exhibit nos. F. 14, 1692, 10, n. 

7 Raghu., I. 42, etc. 

8 Cf, Muttra Museum Exhibit No. 1 24; another from Kamavana, Bharatpur (now in England). 

140 INDtA tt* kALI0ASA 

tion of full breasts 1 pressing each other. The fullness of the breasts in the Ku- 
ana and Gupta sculptures^ is marked at the first sight. So also is the remarkable 
similarity between the description of the heavy hips 3 of the poet's literature and 
their parallelism in sculptures 4 and terracottas*. Master specimens of terracotta 
female statuettes with falling ringlets, full breasts, slender waist and heavy but- 
tocks decorated with broad zones have been discovered from the site mentioned 
above* AvartaSobha 6 or the beauty of the navel forming a deep circle is an impor- 
tant feature of the Kusana and Gupta sculptures and the image of Rsya Srn'ga 7 
and the reliefs of Yaksls carved on the railing pillars 8 of Muttra are examples of 
the kind. Although these features are not wholly unwarranted in earlier times 
during the Gupta epoch they become most conspicuous both in literature and 


Both in the Kusana as well as Gupta sculptural compositions we find scenes of 
dohada (striking by a woman of an Asoka tree with her feet to make it blossom) 
depicted vividly. The Yaksi stands hzlf-nakcd exhibiting the exquisite round- 
ness and the fleshy pliancy of her features preparjng to kick or kicking the asoka 
tree to make it burst into flowers 9 . Kalidasa makes frequent allusions to such 
dohadas which present to us the forms of the above mentioned scenes. 
The extreme sameness is so patent that the visitor stands convinced of the identity 
of the two. While preparing the catalogue of the Muttra Museum, Dr. Ph. 
Vogel was struck by the similarity in a corresponding scene in the Mdlavikagni- 
witra which he quoted to point out the parallelism in his Catalogue of Sculptures 
in the Archaeological Museum at Mathura* 1 . Here we must observe that literature 
draws from life as also does art, but whereas the former may be an aristocratic 
occupation of the ftw, the specimens of the latter arc always the attraction of 
both, the exalted and the common. The endless variety of such scenes in public 
buildings, monasteries, temples and private houses of the Kusana and Gupta 
periods was bound to create an imgae for like reflections IP literature. Imagination, 
howsoever wild, is chained to earth and it is always fed by incidents of life. 
Kalidasa therefore is alluding to contemporary or antecedent models in 

-, XVI. 60, VI. 28. 

2 Muttra Museum Exhibit Nos, 1007, F. 9, 27, 1600. 
3 f^WJ3ff R^A.,VII. 25. 
4 Muttra Museum Exhibits, J. 4, R. 108 and other railing pillais. 
8 Mason, near Aunnhar on the B. N. W. R., district Ghazipur., U. P. 
Rtf.g.jw., XVI. 63. 
'Exhibit No., J, 7. 

8 Exhibit Nos. J. 10, n.- 

9 Exhibit Nos. J. 55,F. 27. 

10 &$#., VIII. 62, IX. 12; M. U., 15; M?/., pp. 37,41,43,45,46,49, 54, 86, III. ri, 17, 19. 

11 P. 153. "It recalls a scene in Kahdasa's play 'Malavika and Agnimitra/ in which the 
king watches the heroine, while she performs the act, just referred to at the request of her mis- 
tress the Queen." 


Seven Mothers 

The Saptamatfkas 1 of the poet we actually find hewn and represented in 
a piece of Kusana composition of the Muttra Museum 2 . Kali one of the Seven 
Mothers, mentioned by the poet as wearing a necklace of sculls 3 (kapalabharana), 
is a common feature of his times. A striking figure of it may be seen at Ellora. 

Ravana lifting Kailasa 

The scene of Ravana lifting the abode of Siva 4 described by Kalidasa is not 
quite an infrequent favourite of the Kusana sculptor. A fine specimen of it is 
preserved at Muttra. A later recension may be witnessed in the Kailasa cave 
at Ellora 5 . 


Laksmi standing on a full-blown lotus 6 or holding a stalk of it in her 
hand 7 or playing with a lotus stalk 8 (lildravinda) have all their corresponding 
counterparts in the sculpture of Muttra 9 and other places. Other references to 
lildravinda^ are also extant. The beautiful description' of Siva and Uma given^by 
the poet 11 is vividly represented in several Kusana specimens showing a loving 
couple. Scenes showing the tying and unfastening of the tresses 12 are beauti- 
fully carved in one of the panels of a door-jamb 13 at Muttra. 


In another panel of the same a foot is held out to a toilet-maid-attendant 
(prasddhika}. A Prasadhika 14 is finely modelled in a bas-relief on one of 
the railing pillars of Muttra carrying a toilet case 15 . But the best specimen of 
the toilet woman is exhibited in the Bharata Kala Bhavana of Benares. 

Other Pieces 

We have also references to purnakuwbha 1 * (sculptured on door-jambs, 
Muttra), nagi 17 , the striking and consequent rebounding of a ball 18 , a flute 

a. 3 VII. 30, 38, VI. 80, 8 1. 
2 Exhibit nos. 552, F. 38. 

3 *hfltHNr*KU|r Ku -> VIIL 39; 

- ?> 5 8 iHtgJVm ^TRT fajgbu-, XII. 49, IV. 80; 


6 Cave No. XVI. Kailasa or the Ranga Mahal. 8 Ragbu., IV. 14, X. 8; KM., VII. 

7 Mai., V. 6. 

8 Ku., III. 56, VI. 84; Ragbu., VI. 13. 

9 Exhibit No. 1345. 

10 Ragbtt., VI. 1 3; #., VI. 84. - 

"Af. 17., 29, 36. 

13 Exhibit No. 1 86. 

14 Raglw., VII. 7. 

u Exhibit No. (J) 369. 

16 JLagbtt., V. 63; Muttra Museum Exhibit No. 1507. 

17 M3L 9 p. 64. Muttra Museum, Exhibit No. F. 2. 

18 *<(r^id^d*^H Raghu., XVI. 83; Muttra Museum Exhibit No. J.ttrfJ}\ 

16 * 




player 1 , the long garland 2 and Dauvarika, 8 gate-keeper, holding a staff 4 (sculp- 
tured under a door- way, Muttra) in the writings of the poet and their parallels 
in sculpture 8 . We have two grand votive sacrificial posts at Muttra* to the 
likes ot which we have several parallel references in the works of the poet. 

Kinnara and AtvamukhH 

The Kinnara and ASvamukhi of Kalidasa 7 have their counterparts in two 
excellent pieces preserved in the Muttra Museum. One of them is a Kinnara 
couple with the body of a fine horse and a beautiful human face. One of the 
couple rides its companion 8 . The other represents the scene of the 
ASvamukhi Jatafca* in the Kusana art. 


Then we must not forget that Kubera 10 , the preponderating figure in 
ana and Gupta images is a frequent allusion of our poet 11 , and the noose-bearing 
Varuna 12 and Indra of Kalidasa also have their models in art. Full-blown 
lotuses 18 of the earlier art are also a favourite simile of the poet. The busy huts 
of the hermitage of the RagbuvariJa u with their doors full of deer is remarkably 
carved in a long Sunga frieze at Muttra 15 which gives a perfect picture of an as- 
cetic's hut, deer, an altar x a kamandalu and other surroundings of a hermitage. 


Kamadeva with his flower bow and five arrows similar to one of the litera- 
ture of the poet 16 has been picturesquely carved in a perfect standing model of 
the terracotta exhibited in the Muttra Museum 17 , perhaps the only terracotta 
specimen of its kind in India. 


Maurya, Sunga, specially the Kusana and early Gupta periods of Indian his- 
tory were marked by representations of Yaksas in sculpture. There had arisen 
something like a Yaksa cult which rose to unforeseen heights during the Kusana 

1 Ragiw., XIX. 35; M. M. Exhibit No. 62 (Harp player). 

* R^gfa., VI. <$o, XIX. 37; M. M. Exhibit no. 186. 

8 KM., III. 41; (cf. Dauvarika, etc.); M. M. Exhibit Nos. p. 14, 68, 69, G. i. 

* *., III. 41; M. M. Exhibits Nos. G. i, p. 68. 
6 M. M. Exhibits Nos. G. i, p. 14, 68. 

6 M. M. Exhibits Nos. 13, 144. 
7 K#.,L 8, *rero^: Ibid., ix: 

* M. M. Exhibit No. F. i. 

9 Ibid., No. 191. 

Muttra Museum Exhibits Nos. 124, C. 3, 31; 75; another, now in England. 
. t V. 26, 28, IX. 24, 25, XIV. 16, 20; Ku. 9 II. 22. III. 25. 

IX. 24; KU.> II. 22. 

Exhibit No. 586. 

t&eum Exhibit No, I. 4. 

64, VIL 92; R^., IX. 39, XI. 45; Vik^U. n. 


and Gupta periods and which also influenced literature, a reflex - of human 
belief. Kalidasa could not resist the temptation of making a Yak?a, symbol of 
love, the hero of his Megfiaduta. Further, he has referred to the Yaksas frequently 1 . 
Beautiful Yaksa images carved in the round are in a considerable number exhi- 
bited in the Muttra Museum 2 , 

Siva and 'Buddha 

. Lastly no reference to a treatment of sculpture in the writings of Kalidasa 
can be complete without giving a description of his Siva in meditation, attacked 
by Kamadeva and showing its remarkable affinity with the perfect calm of the 
Buddha images in contemplation. Without doubt the picture is a second hand, 
attempted* after those images. It will be quite clear if the entire description of the 
meditation of Siva is quoted below. Siva is sitting in meditation in the virdsana 
posture having bent forward both his shoulders and placing his hands like full- 
blown lotuses in his lap 3 . His hair is tied in a knot on the head 4 . His eyes are 
slightly open and are lowered and their pupils are gazing at the pointed end of 
the nose below 5 . He rests calmly holding within himself the various winds that 
live in the body and resembles strictly the absolutely calm and undisturbed flame 
of the lamp 6 . The light emanating from his brahmarandhra (the highest point 
within the head) puts that emanating from the moon on his forehead to shade 7 . 
Closing all the nine doors of the body thus cutting away all connection 
from the external world and applying the mind absolutely to the heart by stop- 
ping all its functions, he looks within himself, within his own soul 8 . The Cupid 
(Kamadeva) eyes with doubt and fear this unassailable god and his bow drops from 
his hand 9 . It may be recollected that this exactly is the attitude and posture of 
Gautama, the perspective Buddha, when Mara attacks him at Bodh Gaya with all 
his following and is foiled in like manner in his mission. The remarkably calm 
meditation of the Buddha and Bodhisattva images of the Indian museums (spe- 
cially those preserved in the Muttra Museum) 10 may be instanced in this connec- 
tion to bring out the iconic affinity between these images and those furnished by 
the description of the poet. The images where they have long hermits' hair 
have it tied in a knot on the top of the head 11 and sit calmly in the manner of an 
undisturbed flame having restrained the winds of the body within them and look- 
ing, as it were, invertly gazing with half-open eyes at the end of their nose and 
sitting in the virdsana mudra with the palms of hands placed on their lap dis- 
closing figures of lotuses and themselves resembling lotuses. The projecting 

1 M. P., i, 5; M. 17., 3; &<; VI. 29. 

2 Exhibit Nos. 5, 10, 14, E. 8, 24, C 18. 

Ibid, 46. 
Ibid., 47. 

Ibid., 48- 

Ibid,, 50. 

Ibid, III. 51. 

10 M. M. Exhibits Nos. A. 27, 45, 1, B. i (Jaina), 57 (Jaina). 
u Ibid, A. i. 


light of Siva from his brahmarandhra has its corresponding feature in the Usnla, 
the bump or protuberance of intelligence, on the head of the Buddha images. It 
may be asserted that this picture of the meditation of Siva has the reflex of its 
form buried in these Buddha and Bodhisattva images of Muttra, for the vivid 
picture that Kalidasa has drawn of Siva's meditation cannot be accepted to have 
been a result of mere fancy. And when we have evidence of these speci- 
mens being a common sight in the land it is but natural that the poet may have 
drawn his image from them. 

It is thus that we find Kalidasa speaking in phrases which can very well be said 
to have originated from their parallels in the Kusana and Gupta art (sculpture). 




From the stray references in the writings of Kalidasa a glimpse of the early 
architecture of India can be caught. We find description of the repairs and re- 
building 1 -of a capital by guilds of architects 2 (tilpisangbdh). Architecture 
has been referred to by the phrase Vastu 3 . Its application to the building of 
a capital has been mentioned in the "RMghuvatifa*. 

We have a complete picture of the architecture of a town given in the poet's^ 
writings. The plan of the town was well laid. It was intercepted with roads. 
The main road was the royal highway 5 (rdjapatha) which probably crossed the 
town and connected it with other cities of the country. There was a busy market 
place 6 (vipani) m the centre and big houses lined 7 the market street on both sides 
which was technically known as dpanamdrga*. The capital or a rich city abounded 
in sky-kissing palaces 9 and high mansions 10 , white coloured 11 , with terraces and 
buttresses 12 . There were laid out in the city public parks 13 (puropakanthopavanam) 
and baths with beautiful flights of steps 14 , hundreds of sacrificial posts 15 , arches 16 , 
artificial hills 17 (kriddSaila\ the outer walls 18 surrounding the city (firdkdra) and the 
great gates 19 (gopuradvdra) and the deep ditch 20 (parikha) encircling the ramparts 
of the city . 

1 <R ^\ *&,' Ragku , XVI. 38. 
2 jy*KRT: Ibid. 

3 Ibid., 39. 

*n^ Ibid., XVII. 36. 
& Ibid., XVI. 12 rKrriHHi VI. 67. 
Ibid., XVI. 41. 

#-,vii. 56,63. 

Ibid., 5 5- 

9 ?mf^, ?mf^Br R^*.,xiv. 29; M. u., i. 

10 Ragbu., VII. 5, VIII. 93, XIII. 40, XV, 30, XVI. 18, XIX. 2, 40; Ku. 9 VI. 4*, VII. 56, 
63; Af. P., 7, 27, M. U. y 3; R/#., I. 3, 9, 28, V. 3; AfJ/., II. 2. 

12 VZ Raghu., VI. 67, XVI. II; V. 75, XVI, 6, II. XIX. 2. 

18 Ibid., XIV. 30. 

14 M. 17., 13. 

16 HMWl-^Kkft Ragt*., XVI. 35, 1. 44- 

Ibid., I. 41, VII. 4; M. L7., 12; Ku. y VII. 63. 

-, n. 43; Af, l/., 14, xs. 

., I. 30, XL 52, XII, 71. 

,p. 185. 

., I. 30, XII. 66; S*&. 9 II. i j, 


We shall deal with the above at certain length one by one. As we have said 
above, the city was crossed by broad streets. Rdjapatha* was 'the broad street, 
the big road, the highway 2 / Its description is given in the 'Brahwdnda Parana, 
part i, 2nd anusanga-pada, ch. 7, vs. 113, 114, 115, Rajav/th/ 3 is another name 
which Kalidasa gives v to the highway. P. K. Acharya mentions it separately, 
however, in his Dictionary of Hindu Architecture* where he explains it as *the pub- 
lic road, the broad street, a road which runs round a village or town, also called 
mangalavithi or rathavlthV* Since Kalidasa distinguishes rdjapatha from rdjavi- 
thi by mentioning them distinctly, it may be suggested that the former was a royal 
highway passing through the centre of the town and connecting other towns cf 
the country while the latter was one of the main streets cf the town .itself. It 
may eyen be possible that the part of the rdjapatha itself, which ran across the town, 
was called rdjavlthL The distinction between the two has got to be made in 
view of their etymology patha and vttht. The roads on both sides were lined 
by white-washed mansions 6 the upper windows of which opened in them 7 . The 
market place ran along the main road or the highway and was marked out by 
prosperous (rddha) high shops (apana s ). 

Royal Palaces 

Royal palaces were extensive buildings fitted with inner apartments 9 and out- 
skirts 10 . They were many-storeyed 11 buildings witfrattic rooms 12 , terraces, arches 13 , 
balconies 14 , courtyards 16 , sabhagrha 16 , prison 17 , court-room, 18 high doors 19 , veran- 
dahs 20 opening on the roofs flooded with moon-beams 21 at night, and pleasure 
gardens 22 . Palaces were variously named as Vimanapratiechanda 23 , Maniharmya 24 , 

. 12. 

2 P. K. Achaiya: A Diet, of Hindu Arch. y p. 524. 
8 R^g/w., XVIII. 39. 

4 P. 5M. 

5 Ibid. 

6 srmT3TTFTT*J K*-, VII. 12. 

7 Ibid., 57-64; Raghu., VII. 5-12. 

55;R^".> XVI. 41- 

3; q^KKlfil K*-> VII. 70, ij^: VIII. 8 1; Jm^g &**, XIX. 42. 
Vik.> p. 26. 
Vide below. 

,,V. 75, XVI. 6, n, XIX. 2 <fi*r 
Ibid., I. 41, VII. 4; K-> VII. 63; M. 17., 12. 

34 srfa* .fc*., p. 159; Ate/., p. 7*- 

p. 223, 

27 ^5 111.67. 

17 ACT/., pp. 64,79- 

18 Vik*> p, 26. 
M ^*.,p. 185; Af. I/., 17. 

20 /*.,p. 65. 

28 sm^Rf Ibid., p, 54. 

a, 6. 

,, pp. 64, 65. 


Meghapraticchanda 1 , Devacchandaka 2 , and the like. These names were not of 
fanciful choice of the owners but they actually stood for distinct types of build- 
ings as mentioned in the Mdnasdra* Vimanapraticchanda has been mentioned by 
the Matsya Purdna under the name Vimanacchanda 3 . There it is explained as 
a palace with eight storeys, many spires and faces, measuring 34 cubits in breadth 4 . 
Maniharmya was another kind of palace which has been mentioned in the 
Arthatdstra* as well. P. K. Acharya explains it "as an upper storey, a crystal 
palace, jewelled mansion 6 / C A crystal palace,' as explained by Mr. Acharya, is 
perhaps the nearest approach to its sense. It might have been one built of marble. 
It is quite possible that some of its building materials were comprised of crystal- 
line ingredients. Naturally with a 'crystalline staircase possessing the beauty 
of the waves of the Ganges 7 * its roof 8 (prsthatalam} looked exceedingly beauti- 
ful. Meghapraticchanda has been alluded to by the Mdnasdra under a slightly 
different name Meghakanta which classes it among a class of ten-storeyed build- 
ings 9 . Devacchandaka also was a similar building. The height of these palaces 
has been suggested by phrases like abhramliha 1 * and abhramlihdgra 11 (lit. sky- 
licking and sky-licking-point respectively), talcF 1 (storey) and vimdndgrabhumi^ 
(quadrangular roof in front of the uppermost storey of a Vimana palace). The 
many-storeyed style of the palaces is also established by the reference to the upper- 
most floor of the palace mentioned in the Sdkuntal^. The palace was ordinarily 
divided into two parts, the inner apartment (the antahSaifi of the Mdnasdra} 
where the antahpura or royal harem was situated, and the outskirts where court- 
yards, fire-chamber 16 for meeting ascetics and the like sabhdgrha 11 , prison and 
court room were located. The pleasure garden, as we have seen elsewhere, was 
attached to the palace, close to the main gate. It contained all sorts of seasonal 
flowers and birds, tanks and perhaps also a zoo 18 . 

Besides the above, we read of yet another kind of palace called Samudragrha 10 . 
It was a summer house built in a cool place. It might even have been a pleasure- 

. 213, 221, 228. 
2 vik., p, 26. 
3 V. 25, 32, 3347> 53- 

4 Acharya: A Diet. ofHtndu Arch., p. 408. 

5 Vide under Grha- Vwydsa. 

6 A Diet, of Htndu ArchL, p. 467. 

<|*UflVlftllSI VMtwi^*1l"ltaMl*HHI r l*1 K/AJ., p. 65. 

8 Ibid. 

9 XXVni.' 16-17. Acharya: A Diet, of Hindu Arch/., p. 5 12. 

. 29. 


12 fit, p. 65; k^gfar., VIII. 93, XIX. 2. 
18 M. /., 6. 

14 Pp. 2l8, 221, 223. 

*? Acharya: Indian Architecture^ p. 5 8. 

16 *JMMH< &*., V. 25; srffcmT $*&> pp. '*$? * J$ V*k., p. 60. i 
. 9 XVII. 27, * III. 67. 

w Ibid., pp. 72, 48, 80, 


house surrounded on all sides by water-ejecting fountains. It was in the garden 
of this mansion that the king retired to enjoy the several pleasures of summer 1 . 
It is important that Samudra has been referred to by the Matsya Purdna\ Bbavisja 
PttrantP and the >rhat$&mhitd* which class it as a particular type of buildings. The 
Matsya Purdna describes it as a sixteen-sided double-storeyed building 5 . 

Saudha and Harmya 

Other houses besides the royal palaces were saudha* and harmya 1 . Saudjia, 
according to Prof. Acharya, was 'a plastered, stuccoed or white-washed house, 
a great mansion, a palatial building, a palace 8 / Harmya has been mentioned by 
the Mdnasdra as a class of seven-storeyed buildings 9 . Saudha and harmya were 
high-roofed buildings and it is to such mansions of Ujjairl that the poet refers 
in his Meghadtita. These mansions are said to have sheltered pigeons 11 . 
Pigeons, it may be noted, generally nestle in high buildings. The mansions of 
Alaka, the city of Kubera, have been compared to the clouds and their summits 
described as 'kissing the clouds 12 / We have already seen that the height of the 
houses won them the names of Abhrarhliha or Abhramhhagra. Those which 
bore terraces were called #/&z 13 , saudha or harmy^. The houses were built with 
bricks and were plastered over with lime water as the word saudha signifies. The 
word dhautd^ (in dhautaharmyd) has the same significance. Besides bricks and 
stones, it appears that marble 1 \mantiila) was also used for building the costly houses 
of the rich. Roofs of houses were built generally sloping and this slope was 
known as valabhi^. It has been explained by Prof. Acharya as 'the roof, the frame 
of a thatch, the topmost part of a house, a class of storeyed buildings, a type of 
entablature, a class of rectangular buildings, a top-room, a turret, a balcony 18 , 
etc/ It has even been used as a synonym of the entablature in the MdnasdrcF*. 
Bhavana 20 was an ordinary house of a rectangular sort 21 . A complete picture of 
an ordinary house may be given below. Within there was a courtyard 22 surround- 

i Ibid. 

aCh. 269, vs. 38, 53. 

3 Ch. 130, v. 24. 

4 Acharya: Indian Architecture, p. 1 16. 


6 Evidenced ante. 

7 Ibid. 

8 A Diet, of Hindu Arch., p. 642. 

9 XXV. 29. 

10 M. P., 38; M. 17., i. 

11 M. P., 38. 

M. u., i. 

38 Evidenced ante. 

"Af.P. >7 ;R/".,l. 9- 


18 A Dirt, of Hindu Arch., p. 537. 

., 38. 
Agti Pur$na> ch. 104, vs. 16-17; Garuda Purana, ch. 47, vs. ai-zz, 26-27. aa Vide ante. 


ed by four walls, in the verandahs of which would have opened the interior 
rooms. Of the interior rooms 1 Kaljdasa mentions the bed 2 and fire chambers 8 , 
garbhave^ma^ (a cell, strong-roojn or sanctum), rooms for sport 5 , storeroom 6 
and others. The house had many windows 7 which opened in the street 8 . The 
roof above the house had a balcony 9 (alinda). The frontage of the house was 
called mukhcfi which was the door itself. Above the door was the lintel 11 (sup- 
ported by the door-jambs) bearing for its shape sometimes a simple arch (torana) 
anU at others an arch with the shape 'of a fish or crocodile 12 (makaratorand). Such 
a makaratorana is beautifully exhibited in a fine specimen in the museum at 
Muttra 13 . Below the torana was the threshold called dehaghi 1 *. The several- 
storeyed ^buildings contained even verandah 15 , on the uppermost storey where 
there was also situated an attic room 16 (talpd). It will not be out of place here to 
discuss a few of these terms in the light of architecture. 


Torana, an arch of the terrace or balcony, usually refers to the outer gate of 
a palace or city, or an arched gate-way. It also meant a temporary ornamental 
arch generally erected on the door of the houses or on roads to receive a great 
personage, the entrance being termed as dvdra 11 or mukha. Torana has been ex- 
plained as 'an arch, a mechanical arrangement of blocks of any hard material 
disposed in the line of some curve and supporting one another by their mutual 
pressure' 18 . "Arches are both architecturally and ornamentally decorated with 
carvings of gods, sages, demigods, goblins, crocodiles, sharks, fish, leographs, 
serpents, lions, flowers, leaves, creepers, etc. and are beautifully set with 
jewels 19 ." We have already cited above a reference to the crocodile type. 

1 qwjKKituifo^ VII. 7> viii. 8i ; &** xix. 42; (inrt^) .&*., V. 3. 

2 frl^HI^ Ragku 9 XVI. 4; M?/., p. 65 . 

dghu., V. 25; i|p4||<u| Safe,, pp. 125, 156; Ma/. y p. 88. 
., XIX. 42. 

/>*., II. 22, V. 22. 

6 ^^fq^CTg TTriimP-N Ma/. 9 pp. 63, 64. This seems to have been a celler, a room 

underground. * 

7 R^.,VI. 24,43, 56, VII. 5,6, 8, 9, n, XIII. 21,40, XIV. 13, XIX. 7; M.P., 32; M. U. 9 
25, 27, 35; R/., V. 2; F/*., p. 63. 

8 R^ir., VII. 5-12; Ku. 9 VII. 57-63. 

9 .fe^., p. 159; Mal. y p. 78. 

10 Ma/., p. 78. x 

11 cftTT Ragbu*9 ! 4 J > VII. 41; #., VII. 63; M. C/., 12. 

12 Exhibited in the Muttra Museum. 
18 Exhibit No. M. 2. 

14 Af. LT., 24. 

15 Evidenced #/<?. 


18 Acharya: A Diet, of Hindu Arcb.> p. 247. 

19 Ibid., p. 248. 



AHnda, generally decorated with an arch (torana\ was a balcony. 
The commentary on the >rhat$amhttd or Kiranatantra, quoted in the 
Dictionary of Hindu Architecture, explains it thus: "By the word 'alinda' 
is understood, the lattice covered path beyond the wall of a hall and facing 
the courtyard 1 /' But this does not properly explain the architectural design 
proposed to be conveyed by the phrase alinda in Kalidasa. Kern, in his paper 2 
on the Brbatsatihitd, LIIL 17, rightly observes that "the word might as well be 
rendered balcony, gallery." It seems that all big buildings had a running ter- 
race over the roof and the outer important rooms were topped with balconies 
which these alindas were, for we read of an alinda on the top of the door 3 , (muhd-, 
Undo) of the Samudragrha 4 and another on that of the fire-chamber 5 . 

A/fa and Talpa 

The buildings were ornamented with turrets 6 (atta) and attic rooms 7 (talpd). 
The deserted city of Ayodhya gave an appearance of 'hundreds of broken attas 
and talpas 8 .' Mr. Acharya explains atta as a turret 9 . Talpa is an attic room 
situated on the top of the house. It was the only room on the topmost storey. 


The big and spacious houses were generally surrounded by an outer wall 
from which opened the windows in the streets. There are innumerable refer- 
ences to windows opening in the street. Alokamdrgd^ was a window which ad- 
mitted light in the building and through which one could have an outside view. 
VdtdyandP- was another kind of window 'to let in the air/ Vdtdyana was per- 
haps the general name of which dlokamdrga^gavdkscF* %&&jdlamdrgcP were kinds 14 . 
Gavdksa resembled a cow's eye in its sha^pe as its etymology suggests. It has been 
even so explained in the Manasdra 1 *. The Mcflavikdgnimitra refers to this kind of 
window as commanding *a view of the garden tank and receiving the plentiful 
breeze 16 / Jalamarga was fitted with a frame containing a net-work of wood, stone, 
plaster or metal with air-holes in it. It was in fact a lattice work which may yet 

*?.' JLA. S.> (N. S.), Vol. VI. p. 282, Note 3. 

3 Mai., p. 78. 


. 159. 

i a* 1 *-, vi. 6 7 pniM<kmg xvi. u. 

Vide ante. 

8 &**., XVL 11. 

9 A Diet, of Hindu Arch., p. 1 5 - 


11 Ibgiw., VI. 24, VI. 8, XIII. 21, XIV. 13; M. U., 25; R/*., V. 2. 
Rjagt**., VIL ji, XIX. 7; M. U., 35- Ate/., p. 9. 
Ragto., VL 45> VII. 9; M. P., 32; M. U., 27. 
" Manama, XXXffl. 568-59?- 
41 wrtviWw^Jt^ro w ^ w*i t?H*i HT Ma**> p. 9. 


be seen in old houses and royal palaces in the native states. The mansions of 
the city of Bhoja, fancifully declares Kalidasa, had their windows with lattice 
made of gold 3 . The windows were so designed as to admit in abundance moon- 
light in the room 2 which cooled the tired bodies of the dwellers. The poet ima- 
gines that these even received small clouds which entered the courtyard through 
them and obliterated the paintings 3 on the inner walls by their vapour. 


Within the house there was a courtyard surrounded by walls. It was paved, 
in certain cases, with crystalline 4 slabs which glistened with the rays of the sun at 
day and reflected the heavenly bodies at night 5 , 

'Lattice Work 

Palaces and mansions had covered paths with fine lattice work through which 
the ladies could have a view of the outside world. Many other apartments of the 
mansion were fitted with lattice work from which issued volumes of smoke 6 in 
the evening and which served as an outlet for the smoke caused by cooking meals 
or the burning of mcense during the evening worship. 


Some houses also contained a bath-room 7 (yantradhdrdgrhd) fitted with crys- 
talline benches and water pipes 8 (yantrapravaha,yantradhdra). This bathroom had 
some sort of arrangement through which water was kept flowing for the purpose 
of bath and for other cooling needs. 


The out-skirts of the palace, or also in certain cases the mansion, contained 
stables for horses 9 and elephants 10 . Those for elephants contained posts 11 to which 
they were tied. 

Sopdna or Stairs 

Palaces and other mansions and tanks were fitted with beautiful stairs 12 
about which Kalidasa speaks with so much admiration. In the Vikramorvafi 
he describes a crystalline flight of steps possessing the beauty of the waves of 

*., VII. 5- 
* M. LT. 7. 
3 Ibid., 6. 
*X*.,VIL 10. 
6 Ibid., VI. 42. 

7 JMtbiKH M. P., 61; felKm^ R*<g**., XVI. 49- 

fa 01 1 fq'RII llfe|su*l Pl^fKHl^NnH'jfi*^: 11 R^gAlT., XVI. 49. 

J^JT HKfcifafo: gtf: &*&*> XVI. 41. 


* Ibid. 

Ibid., VI. i, 3, XVI. 15, 5<>; M- U. 9 16; Sit., p. 225; Vik.> p. 65. 


the Ganges 1 . Then he mentions the stairs of a tank made of emeralds leading to 
the surface of the water 2 . This description may not be altogether imaginary and 
cannot be dismissed as a piece of mere hyperbole although the picture may be 
a little overdrawn. Even now we find crystalline flights of steps in the palaces 
of several Indian princes. 

Railing Pillars and Vdsayasti 

Besides the above, houses and palaces had also railing pillars 3 on which female 
figures were carved in relief which we shall notice later. It may be noted in this 
connection that the Museum at Muttra abounds in exhibits of such railing pil- 
lars with female yaksi figures carved on them in high relief which are the. pride of 
the Kusana period. There were also roosts 4 architecturally provided in the houses 
for the permanent perching of the domestic birds. They were called Vdsayasti. 

Other Buildings 

There were the coronation hall, the council hall 5 and the occasional vivdha- 
mandapa^ catuska* and catuhtdla* . The coronation and council halls were perma- 
nent structures within the palace while vivdhamandapa and catuska were temporary 
ones. Vivahamandapa was a pavilion erected for the wedding ceremonies. It was 
a catuska or a foursided pavilion. Catuhasala was any rectangular building. 
Vedi*, was a raised altar with a canopy (yimdnd) of four pillars erected under the 
rules of the Mdnasdra architecture. Yajnafarana* was perhaps a yajnasala, a 
sacrificial enclosure, where sacrifices were held. We have a reference to a 
pratimdgrhcfi where worship was carried on by offering sacrifices to gods. Besides, 
we read of the ASvamedha and several other sacrifices which may have been 
held in such a hall of sacrifices as this. Then, outside the palace, was erected 
occasionally a temporary structure for holding the wayamvard^. This structure 
was a gallery of benches rising one above another 12 . There were many paths 13 
constructed between the rows of the gallery. 

The city deserted by its inhabitants by its king 14 or destroyed by a con- 
queror presented the appearance of hundreds of broken turrets and terraces with 
dilapidated ramparts, and of houses the tops of which were overgrown with 

ik.> p. 65, text quoted ante 
2 . U.,i6. 
8 Rag/bi. 9 XVI. 17 

fegte., III. 67, *m XVII. 27. 
*, V. 68, VII. 9; E*f*. t VII. 17- 

7 AW., p. 87- 

8 &***., XVII. 9. 

*MJ/.,P. 102. 

w R*^., XVI. 39, XVII. 36. 
"Ibid., VI. 

Ibid., VI. i, 3> 10. 

Ibid., VI. 10. 

-> XVI. 39; XVII. 36. 3T*Rfe M. U., 16. 

"Ibid., XVI. 


grassy blades. The highways were deserted and the market place empty and 
hushed 1 . 

Gardens and Parks 

Gardens and parks abounded (udydnaparampardstF) in the city. Gardens 
were of two kinds. They were the pramadavana*, attached to the palace 
or the house, and parks for the citizens 4 (nagaropakanthopavandni) generally 
situated outside the town. Both were laid out spaciously enough to contain an 
orchard and a flower garden the bowers 5 of which contained stone or crystal- 
line benches 6 to cool the body, tanks 7 (dirghikd) containing pleasure rooms, 
reservoires of water 8 (vapf) and wells 9 (kupa\ columns on which domesticated 
birds perched 10 , water fountains 11 and irrigation channels and a oo 12 , perhaps 
an adjunct of the pramadavana alone. 

Dirghikd, Vdpi and Kfipa 

The terms above metioned will need elucidation. Dirghika was rather a 
narrow long tank; perhaps its water came from the fountain of the garden. Vapi 
has been explained by Prof. Acharya as a tank, a well, a reservoire of water 13 / 
Kalidasa uses it in the sense of a beautiful tanfk. Perhaps dirghikd and vapi were 
both tanks with the only difference that the former was a longer narrower reservoire 
of water while the latter was a square one. The poet mentions a grhadirghikd 1 * to 
distinguish it from a dirghikd of the public parks and locates it in the pleasure 
garden (pramadavana). Vapi, says the poet, had a flight of steps paved with 
emeralds 15 . Dirghikas were furnished with secret chambers meant for amorous 
sports 16 (gudhamohanagrhdh}. Many a libidinous monarch, fallen from the virtue 
of public service to the vice of wine and women disported in such tanks with 
beautiful damsels occasionally retiring in these chambers below the ground and 
on the same level as water. The commentator 17 explains that these rooms were 
meant for surata and kdmabhoga. These rooms stood in water, waist-deep part 
of its ground lying on a dry slope. Such a tank with secret chambers may be wit- 

d., 11-12. 
2 ibid., VI. 3 5, XIV. 30. 

9 p. 7; Vtk.t p. 54- 


<*&> P- 20 - 

? Raghu., IX. 37, XVI. 13, XIV. 2, 9; KH., II. 33; Ma/., II. p. 9, 12. 
8 Af. 17., i 3 ;R/*.,VI. 3- 
9 R/#., I. 23. 

10 M. [/ 16; %4gt>u* 9 XVI. 14. 

11 M?/., II. 12; cf. also R/#., I. 2; Raghu., XVI. 49. 

M Ate/., p. 85. 

^ A Diet, of Hindu Arch., p. 543. 
i* Raglw., IX. 37. 

16 AT 17., 13. 

ie R^g^., XIX. 9. 

17 Comment on Ibid. 


nessed even to-day at Lucknow built perhaps for Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Oudh 
behind the Picture Gallery. Kupa was a well. Vapl, described in the Megbaduta, 
had beside it standing an artificial hill 1 encircled with plantains. 


The existence of the artificial hills seems to have been a common feature 
in the garden as we read several references 2 to them made by the poet. The 
garden of the Yaksa contained in its middle a crystalline post .also on which 
perched the domesticated peacock. On the top of the post rested a square 
tablet (phalaka). It was on this tablet that the favourite peacock of the Yaksa's 
wife (tied to its staff at the foot) danced to the tune of its mistress's bangles 3 . 


We read of Variyantra, fountains, or water-wheels, fitted in a garden in the 
following allusion: "The peacock desirous of drinking the drops of water thrown 
up flies round the revolving variyantra 4 ." Mr. S. P. Pandit 5 thinks that "vari- 
yantra or jalayantra was the Persian wheel (a large wheel surrounded with buckets 
for raising water); but it does not seem to mean that. It must be noted that a 
water-wheel with buckets does not throw up or about drops of water; water 
trickles down from the buckets. Besides, bhrdntimat cannot properly apply to such 
a wheel; bhrdmyat would have been the proper phrase. A whirling fountain 
with a motion of its own is implied by the poet. The peacocks flying after the 
drops of water as they flew forward had to hover and hover round the fountain 
to catch them. There was, however, some sort of contrivance at the top of it 
which made it revolve and throw sprays of water up and around. The water 
thus thrown out gathered in the irrigation channels of the garden and flooded 
the flower beds and dlavdlas of the trees. We have already referred to water pipes 
or some such contrivances through which water flowed (pravdhd) in the bath 
rooms, yantradhdrdgrhd. 


The town also contained temples (pratiwdgrha) of gods 6 and sacrificial posts 7 
ySpa. Yupa was a post 8 to tie the sacrificial animal to and it can be instanced 
in two beautiful-specimens dedicated by the Kusana emperors Vaisiska and VSsu- 
deva now exhibited in the Muttra Museum. They are curved at the top to form 
a bend like the neck of a horse and below, in the middleof and round the long shaft, 

1 & II. 43; AT. U., 14, * 8; Vik. 9 p. M- 

2 Ibid., 
Af.U., 16. 

6 Vikramorvafi* notes. 

Ibid, 59, XVH. 36; ftrimlbid., XVIII. 24; q^ro M. P., 33> 34; frHWlM Ibid., 43- 
# XVI. 35. 


there runs the carved impression of an argald (bridle or noose). The great gates 
of the walls of the town were closed with the help of strong bolts 1 . 


Utaja 2 or parna&Lla 3 was a hut with a thatched roof. A vivid example of 
it may-be seen in a relief composition preserved in the Muttra Museum which 
will give an idea as to what it was like. 

}Lbck-cut Caves 

It was an age of excavation of the architectural wonders called darfgrha\ or 
tildvefmcP. These were caves cut and fashioned to make temples out of solid 
massive jrocks of mountains to which Kalidasa frequently refers 6 . A look at 
one of these strewn over the ridges of the Western Ghats and other mountains 
of the Deccan will give an idea of the stupendous labour and expense they must 
have entailed. 

After finishing a piece of architecture the god, the guardian deity of it, was 
worshipped with various sorts of efferings which included sacrificed animals 7 , 
and then alone it could be utilized. 

1 Ibid., XVIII. 4. 

2 Ibid., I. 50, 52, XIII. 22, XIV. 81, XIX. 2; KH., VIII. 38. 

3 Ragbu., XII. 40. 

4 #.,1. 10, 14; R/*.,L 25. 
5 Af. P., 25. 

6 Ibid., Rta., I. 25; KM 9 1. 10, 14. 

7 o^rwfeWT?RT R*<#&*., XVI. 39, cf. also Ibid., XVII. 36. 



General Prosperity 

The reader of the works of Kalidasa is struck by the prosperous condition 
of the people which is most lavishly attested to by innumerable allusions of an 
economic nature. It must be noted, however, that since he refers mostly to the 
rich section of society his description cannot be accepted as depicting the state of 
the common people. Yet from what one reads in his works one is overwhelmed 
with the evidence of opulence and, plenty. Big mansions with their many- 
storeyed roofs, attic rooms, balconies and terraces were common sights along 
both sides of streets. To many of these houses were attached luxuriously laid 
out gardens where flowers and plants of every season were grown in abundance 
in the lovely beds of the rich Indian soil. The wealth of precious stones was not 
only a source of income to the State but in most cases it also satisfied the taste 
of the luxury-loving rich who put them to different uses. Food was rich and wine 
was of many kinds and much in use. Trade flourished and the caravans of mer- 
chants by land and sdrthavdhas by sea poured forth immense wealth got in trade 
(ydnijya). Trade routes were very commonly frequented. Cities abounding 
in the land, were noisy and thickly thronged by people. Shops lined both sides 
of the highway and rich customers moved to and^fro making their purchases 
in the crowded bazaras where articles, big and small, imported from lands with 
which India -carried on her brisk trade, were heaped in piles. We shall now sur- 
vey below the economic state of the people under specific heads. 

National Wealth 

The following were the sources of the national wealth. Agriculture 1 was 
the main source of the sustenance of people as also of the land revenue for the 
State. Pastures 2 yielded grass for crores 3 of cows and other cattle. Ferries 4 
paid were considerable; trade and commerce brought in much riches, and forests 
yielded elephants for warfare and ivory. Exhaustively worked mines 5 produced 
precious stones and metals, diamonds, marbles and gold. Seas 6 were the source of 

1 M. P,, 16. 

a *ntf B4Sfcr., XVI. 2. 

8 ntr?tft^r: ibid., 11.49- 

* Ibid., XVI. 2; Ku. 9 VIII. 34. 

* fegte., m. 18, XVIL 66, XVIH. 22; Afitf,, V. 18. 

., III. p, IV. 50, X. $o, 85, XIII. 13, 17; Rte., III. 4; Mai, I. 6. 

CHAPTER xv 157 

pearls, conches, various shells (fukti) and corals, and so were certain rivers 1 the 
source of pearls and their sands that of jjold dust 2 (kanakasikatd). 


The wide expanse of land which yielded enormous revenue to the coffers 
of the State and fed the swelling masses of the country reached the shores of the 
seas. Many crops 3 (fasya) were cultivated and grown. The following is a re- 
corpi of the various grains referred to by Kalidasa as sown and harvested in India 
and outside: barley 4 , a kind of small sprouts of barley 5 , paddy 6 of various sorts, 
sugarcanes 7 , tila 8 (seasamum) and saffron 9 . The above were extensively sown 
and harvested in the soil befitting their respective growth. Thus the Punjab 
and uplands of U. P. may have grown wheat and barley, while Bihar, the lowlying 
plains of Bengal and the southern plateau paddy. We read of many kinds of 
paddy sown, namely, j^// 10 , kalamd 11 and nivara 12 . Sugarcanes yielded various 
processes (vikdra) of sugar 13 (gudavikdra). A particular area of land in the valley 
of the Oxus produced the precious saffron 14 . We read of the pleasant aroma 
rising from the recently tilled fields of the province of Mala 15 . 

Besides the sugarcanes, reference to only one cereal crop, rice, has been made 
with much frequency and fondness. Kalidasa knows its different seasons in dif- 
ferent countries. -The winter crop is reaped from November to January in Bengal 
and British Burma and elsewhere as is mentioned in the ^.tusamhdr^ though 
it appears that the early crop of rice in Bengal, reaped between July and Septem- 
ber, is not known to him. At least he makes no reference to it. He knows of 
the varieties of rice called kalamd^ and /J// 18 , and of ntvara lg , growing wildly. The 
kalamd variety of rice and the plantation of sugarcanes with rice fields are also 
known to our poet 20 . The autumn crop reaped in Kashmir is noted from ancient 
times for its only important crop of rice, /<?//'. Songs associated with the sugar- 
cane and rice fields of autumn appear in the }^aghuvamscP l . The rainy season was 

1 Raghu.,IV. 50. 

2 Af. 17., 4. 

8 R^.,X. 5 9, XVII. 66. ( 

4 ^Nl*fr< (Commentator) Ragbu., VII. 27. 

5 qsTFR Ibid., X. 43, XIII. 49; Ku. t VII. 17. 

6 RatgS*., IV. 20, 37; R/#., Ill,, i, 10, 16, IV. i, 7, 18, V. i, 18. 

7 JLaghu., IV. 20; Rtu.) V. i, 16; Sak., p. 224. 
8 ^.,p. 94. * 

9 Ragb*. 9 IV. 67; R*., IV. 2, V. 9, VI. 4, 12. 
lOR^/MV. 20; Rto., Ill, r, 10, 16, IV. i, 17, 1 8, V. i, 16. 
**&*., IV. 37- 
"Ibid., I. io;SaJk. 9 I. 13. 

: R^-, V. 16. 

* 4 Rjaghu., IV. 67. 
16 M. P., 16. 

16 The Birth-Place of Kalid&a, p. 24. 

17 Quoted ante. 

20 Ragb*., IV. 20, 37. al Ibid., 20. 


eagerly awaited for the purposes of agriculture, and we find the women of Mala- 
dea expecting the advent of the rains, who knew that the clouds were the cause 
of it 1 . MaladeSa had its fields ploughed in the beginning of July. Mention is 
mode of the cultivation of saffron in the valley of the Oxus 2 . 

Auxiliaries of Agriculture 

Tljere were other auxiliaries of agriculture. Oxen were utilized to till the 
soil ;.nci hulls , mules 3 and camels 5 were used as the beasts of burden. Pastures 6 , 
particularly on the lowlyirjg hills, yielded enough grass for the sheep which sup- 
plied the nation with the warm wool 7 (patrorna}. Cattle were fecf in these pastures. j 
Sctu 8 has been used by Kalidasa 9 in the sense of building bridges. Kautilya, 
however, uset> it m the sense of irrigation also 10 . 


Varta 11 referred to the rearing of the cattle. It must have yielded excellant 
breeds of bulls, oxen and the cows. We read of crores of cows 12 forming the 
national wealth. It was the meadows that gave fodder for the horses, cattle and 
mules and the dry lands and deserts for the camels, 


The chief occupations of the people were the following, namely, agriculture 
(dealt with above); metal-working, done by goldsmiths and other artisans 13 ; weav- 
ing, which produced cotton and silk fine enough to be blown away by the breath 14 
as also canvas-like cotton cloth thick and strong enough to serve for tents 15 ; 
trade 18 ; arms 17 ; fish-catching; 18 sailor's work 19 ; and other ways of living by net 20 ; 

iM. P., 16. 

.,IV. 67. 
: Ibid., IV. zz. 

Ibid.,V. 32. 
6 &$ Ibid. 

6 Ibid., XVI. 2. 

7 tpjW Mai., V. 12, Ibid., p. 105; grofazf &<, VII. 25. 
* Ragbu., XVI. 2. 

s Ibid., (IV. $8). XVI. 2; Ktt. 9 VIII. 34. 
1 ?4rthaJastra, Bk. III. Ch. 8 and Bk. VIL Ch. 14. 

11 Ra&hu., XVI. 2. 

12 Ibid., II. 49. 

14 fa:MI^Hfe|* &**, XVI. 43. 

Ibid., V. 41, 49, 63, 73, Vn. i, IX. 93, XIII. 79, XVI. 55, 73J Vik., p. nx. 

17 SftTrfw: K^*-> XVII. 62. 




government service 1 ; teaching of fine aits 2 ; the priesthood 3 ; singing and dan- 
cing 4 ; gardening 5 ; fowler's work 6 ; mason's work^and the like. 

From frequent allusions to mines 8 and their yields we learn that they were 
exhaustively worked and they produced precious stones and metals and other 
minerals. The following are the precious stones 9 (want) named by the poet: 
vajrd^ (diamond), padmardgcfi (ruby), puspardga* 2 (topaz), mahdmlcfi or indranild^ 
(japphire), marakatd^ (emerald), vaidtirya 1 * (lapis lazuli), sphatika 11 (crystals), mam- 
///#, 18 suryakdnta (sun-glass) and candrakdntd^ (moon-glass). The two, named 
last, were respectively sun and moon gems resembling crystals. The latter was 
supposed to 002 out water in drops at the touch of the beams of the moon 21 , 
whereas the former 'received, like a sun-glass, from the sun the flame that fell 
upon and destroyed wood 22 / This refers to the well-known fact that the rays 
of the sun received, and transmitted by the sun-glass to a piece of wood beneath 
it burnt it. This disc of crystal was not a fabulous stone with fabulous proper- 
ties, as some imagine, but it was a kind of glass lense and it shows that Indians were 
not ignorant of the properties of this glass or crystal when Kalidasa wrote his 
Abhijfidna Sdkuntala^. The following metals were drawn from the mines: gold 24 
(suvarna, hema, hiranya^ kanaka, kancana and dravina), sand or dust of gold 25 (kana- 
kasikata) from which were made most of the ornaments, silver 26 (rajatd), copper 27 
(tdmra), and iron 28 (ay a), from which the necessaries of war and other requirements 
produced by cast iron like hammer 29 (ayoghana) were cast and fashioned. We 

1 The army, ministers and other officials discussed ante. 

2 Ma/., p. 17. 

4 Courtesans evidenced ante. 

5 M. P., 26. 

:^-> P- 56- 

s Ibid., III. 18, XVII. 66, XVIII. 22; Mat., V. 18. 

9 Rffgto., III. 18, XIII. 53, 59, XVIII. 42, XIX. 45; JO/., VIII. 75; M. U., 4, 16; Ma/., V. 18. 

10 RisgA*., VI. 19. 

Ibid., XVIII. 53, 59. 

12 Ibid., 32. 

13 Ibid., 42. 

14 Ibid., XIIL j 4 , XVL 69; M. P., 46; M. U., 14. 

15 M. U., 13. 

16 K*. 9 1. 24, VII. 10; Rto., II. 5; M. U.> 13. 

*., XIIL 69; #., VI. 42; M. 17., 16. 
.,VI. 38. 
#.,XI. 2 1; .fa*., II. 7. 

20 M. L7.,7. 

21 Ibid. 

28 Ibid. 

* Ku. 9 VII. 50; Raghu., I. 10, 30, II. 36, V. 2, 29, IV. 70, VI. 7* M. 17, 4, 16. 

26 Af. L7., 4, (Perhaps also from the sand of some rivers). 

f.,II. 13. 

..I.44, VI. 51. 

,XIV. 33. "Ibid. 


read of a certain Other metal, perhaps mica, manganese or glass from which look- 
ing glasses 1 were manufactured. Other products of the mines and mountains 
have also been mentioned. They -may be referred below: sindura 2 (red lead), a 
kind of stone product from which unguents 3 were 'prepared, tnanahtild* (realgar) 
used in various cosmetic preparations, gairiktfi (dhdturdga, dhdturasa, dbdturenu\ 
a kind of red stone yielding colour, and failey<P y a stone secretion (fluid) containing 
strong medicinal properties much used in preparations in Ayurvedic tonic mostly 
for the metabolic diseases. We have no comprehensive mention of specific rocks, 
yet stray allusions furnish us with the following kinds of them namely, y/7J 7 , 
meaning all simple rocks of granite and sandstone, crystalline rocks 8 , including 
marble (maptiild\ and a kind of red stone 9 geru (adrigairikd). 

Yields of the Marine Sowces 

The river Tamraparni of the Pandya country of the south and the Indian Ocean 
have been noted by the poet for their precious and useful yields. Seas 10 have been 
considered the womb which yielded precious gems 11 (ratna). They yielded be- 
sides pearls 12 , (mukta)> conchshells 13 (sankha-yutham) discovered in lots and so 
commonly used in peace and war, shells 14 (fukti vernacular sipf) and corals 15 
(vidruffta). The riVer Tamraparni has been referred to as a prolific source of 
pearls 16 . It may be noted that this source continues to yield pearls even now. 


The wild extensively growing forests produced besides building timber and 
fuel, the sacred skin of the ruru 11 , krsnasdra, deer and other skins 19 , musk 20 (mrgd?- 
ndbhi) obtained from the navel of the roaming deer, lac 21 , (Idksa) furnishing women 
with their various dyes, and the yak tail 22 (camari) so commonly used as a symbol 

3 Ibid., XIV. 37, XVII. 26, XIX. 28, 30; #//., VII. 22, 36, VIII. u;JaJk. 9 VII. 32. 

2 R/#.,L 24. 

3 Ragto., VI. 55, VII. 8; //., V. 514 R///.> IV. 17; Ate/., 1TI. 5. 

*Ragbu.,Xll. 80; 1C*., I. 55. 

&., V. 72, 44, IV. 715 K*.> L 7, VI. 5 1; M. U., 42. 
Rfcr. f VI. ji;&.,I. 55- 

^ M. U.> 42. 

TOfap K4K XIII. 69; K*. 9 VI. 42; Af. 17., 16. 
Af. 17., 42; X^gA*., V. 72. 

&0ft., III. 9, X, 300,85. 

Ibid., VI. 14, 7 M- U., J. 

" R*tf*. 9 XIII. 17, XIX. 45; KM., VII. 10; Ate/., I. 6. 

18 E^*., XIII. ij;JR///.,III. 4 . 

M Jl^^., XIII, 17; Ate/., I. 6. 

Rto. f VI. 16,31. 

"ibid., iv. 50. 

17 Ibid., III. 31. 
"Ibid., IV. 65. 
/*., VI. 12. 
Ibid., VI. 13. 


of royalty and serving as a flywhisk. Elephants were caught from the forests 
of Kalinga 1 and Kamarflpa 2 . They have been associated also with Ariga 8 . 
Perhaps these forests which yielded elephants were preserved. It may be noted 
that Kautilya refers to preserved forests of elephants 4 . It may also be remem- 
bered that Kalidasa exempts elephants from being shot at 5 . Elephants were uti- 
lized in times of war and they formed one of the four) traditional columns of an 
Indian army 6 . They must have yielded in value of tusks 7 in the market of ivory 
when dead. The forests also gave building material for the river canoes 8 and the 
coastal rowing boats 9 and the inland 10 and sea going 11 vessels for war 12 and trade. 13 
The Himalayan mountain, besides yielding mineral dusts 14 of various kinds, 
grew the Ja/a l * and devaddru^ which produced resin (nirydsa, kstra) y the source of 
an important oil. Further, the wildly growing trees of the Malaya valley produced 
spices like cardamom 17 (eld\ cloves 18 (lavangd) and black pepper 19 (marica) as also 
betel leaves 20 (tdmbulavalli). Then there were the yields of fruit trees in forests 
and orchards. The coastal countries produced cotoa-nuts and other palms and 
nuts described elsewhere 21 . Sandal was also obtained in the sandal 22 forests of 
the Malaya valley. 

Trade and commerce (vanyam*) flourished briskly as may be gathered from 
references to busy trade carried on by princely merchants who flooded the country 
with wealth 24 (dhdrdsaro) and who were addressed by the king with consider- 

able deference 25 . There were two trade routes 28 , those of the land and the sea. 


1 Ibid., IV. 40. 

2 Ibid., 83. 

3 fa%Rm: fa ^PTt: Ibid., VI. 27. 
* ArthaSastra, Bk. VII. Ch. 14. 

u. y IX. 74, qsnaft Ibld -> v - 5- 

Ibid., IV. 30, 40, VI. 54- 

7 ^T Ibid., V. 72, XVII. 2!. 

8 ^^T Ibid., I. 2. 

9 Ibid., IV. 31, XIV. 30, XVI. 51, 68, XVII. 81. 

10 Ibid., XIV. 30. 

11 Sat., p. 219. 
ia R^gM.,IV. 36. 

18 SfiA., p. 219. 
i*IL7^.,IV. 71. 
15 Ibid., I. 38- 

" M. U., 44- 

17 Raghu., IV. 47- 

" Ibid,, VI. 5 7; K*., VIII. 25. 

19 *#&*., IV. 46- 

20 Ibid., VI: 64, XIII. 14, 49> IV. 4*. 

21 Ibid., IV. 42, g-^fr 57 etc., Vide ante (Flora and Fauna). 

22 Ibid., 48, 51- 
a*M<?/.,I. 17- 
WK/*.,IV. 13. 
26 &., 



Raghu prefers the land route 1 (sthalavartmana) to# sea-route. This shows that there 
was a sea route, besides, to reach the Persians which he forsook from some con- 
sideration. Mallinatha, the renowned commentator of the works of Kalidasa 
suggests that the preference to the land route was due to religious considerations 2 
which forbade sea voyage. But this is hardly reliable for there is ample evidence 
in the works of Kalidasa to show that great marine activities were in vogue du- 
ring his time. Besides, Fahien 3 , a contemporary, records that he returned to China 
by the sea route in a ship which had on its board besides others, r Brahmins, the 
up-holders of the Bhagavata dharma, who explained the storm that raged for 
several days as caused by the presence of the foreign Buddhist. Then it was 
only after about a century that the neighbouring islands of Bali, Java and 
Sumatra were colonized through marine activities of the Indians. Even mvch 
before the Guptas there existed an enormous sea-borne trade with the wes- 
tern countries of Arabia, Egypt and Rome. The Periplus of the Erythrean Sea, 
Pliny and many others prove this statement in their respective accounts. There- 
fore Mallinatha* s explanation cannot be accepted as correct. For a conqueror 
who had overrun the entire country proceeding by land the reference afresh to 
taking journey by land in the middle of his conquest would mean nothing un- 
less we suppose that there was a sea route also on the shore leading from Tii- 
kuta. It was here that the two roads bifurcated. Probably from here people 
embarked on sea voyages to Persia and other places by ship. It may be further 
noted that Kalyana was a flourishing seaport in the vicinity. The great land route 
which ran from one end of the country to the other was variously known as mahd- 
patha*, rdjapathd*, and narendramdrga* (great highway or royal highway). The 
irland trade was very brisk as is attested to by the MdlavikagnimitrcP although the 
highways in certain zones were not altogether free from danger of rob- 
bers 8 and we read of occasional cases of plunder of the caravans 9 being reported 
to the king. The inland trade-route may have been one indicated by the south- 
ward march of Raghu in course of his conquest 10 . Aja's march to the country of 
the Bhojas (Berar) was perhaps another route leading to south-mid-India 11 . A 
third was perhaps one taken by the cloud messenger in the Meghadfita 1 *, 
but this route can be accepted only with some modification. Ujjaini 
must have, for example, lain on the highway to the north although in one 
which the cloud messenger takes, it lies off the way and the messenger has to bend 

1 Ibid., IV. 6o 


* Fa-beinfs Record of the Buddhistic Kingdoms. Trans, by James Legge, p. 113, 

K*,vn. 3. 

&&*., XIV. 30. 

6 Ibid., IV. 67. 

7 fT ^IdWH!^ PnfWt TcfT^T <jflwi: Mal.> p. 98, 1. 17. 

* Ibid., V. 10, 

9 WT^T ^sPn^TO Ibid., p. 98. 

11 Ibid., V. 41 ft 
13 P. M 


its course 1 in order to reach the poet's pleasant resort. The cloud naturally should 
have taken a direct course to the north, the dense forests or high mountains 
having been no barriers to its flight over head. But for a tradesman or a pedlar 
these would have proved unsurmountable barriers. The route therefore had 
Uj jainl also lying on it. The Periplus actually places it on this route. It records: 2 
"Eastward from Barygaza is a city called Ozene, formerly the capital where 
the king resided. From this place is brought down to Barygaza every commodity 
for local consumption or exports to other parts of India, onyxstones, porcelain, 
fine muslins, mallow-tinted cottons and the ordinary kinds in great quantities. 
It imports from the upper country through Proklais for transport to the coast, 
spikenard, kostos and udellium." Thus Ujjaini was connected with all the coun- 
tries of the north whose trade passed to the western foreign lands through the 
parts situated on the western coast of India. It may possibly have been connect- 
ed also with the more southern ports of Sopara and Kalyan. The travelling 
routes were frequented and were usually safe for journey. 

The existence of the seaborne trade is attested to by ample evidence. We 
have already shown that there was an oft-sailing route to Persia by sea which 
Raghu preferred not to choose. The people of the Variga country are said to have 
possessed warships: 3 of course this reference is to ferrying in the inland water- 
ways. From other records we gather that India kept a commercial intercourse 
with Ceylon and the islands neighbouring Burma and China, especially the is- 
lands of Java and Bali. Kalidasa mentions canoes 4 , rowing coastal boats 5 of 
various kinds, one of them having a structure like a canopy 6 (vimdna) worthy of 
the state of a king. There were sea-going vessels which occasionally sustained 
a wreckage 7 . In an important passage Kalidasa refers to merchants making sea 
voyages for the purposes of commerce 8 . The first seventeen verses of the thir- 
teenth canto of the Raghuvamsa are no doubt, descriptive of a sea voyage. In 
the phrase dvjpdntara occurring in the }Laghuvamsa> VI, 57, the poet directly re- 
fers to spice islands 9 . The China silk 10 imported in India might have more pro- 
bably come by the sea-route. 


The trade of India may be described under the headings imports and exports. 
The articles mentioned below were those received from other countries. A kind 

?racr: M. P., 27. 

2 Sec. 48. 

8 T^n^fl^TR R<^*., IV. 36 
., I 2. 

5 6, xiv. 30. 

faw: $&* p- 219* * 
rg: ibid. 

q Kagbu. , VI. 5 7, 



of silk came frotn China and was known as CindmSuka 1 * The westerners 2 (pas- 
cdtyafi)) both Persians 8 and Greeks 4 , have been mentioned by the poet as cava- 
liers (aSvasddbawV). It is natural, therefore, that fine horses were imported from 
the west. K&lidasa mentions an excellent breed of the vanaytfi steeds in use in 
India. Kautilya 6 also mentions Vanayu as celebrated for its horses. Vanayu 
has been identified by Nundo Lai Dey with Arabia 7 . Arabia is noted for its 
breed of houses. Horses also came from Kamboj 8 . Cloves also came from othc r 
islands as now. To supplement the account of Kalidasa we may quote herein 
important authority of the closing years of the first century A. D. In the Peri- 
plus of the Erythrean sea is preserved a complete list of articles and goods imported 
in India from foreign lands through Bhrgukaccha, Kalyana and others, ports on 
the western and the eastern coast. Thus in the kingdom of Nambanus were im- 
ported the following, namely, wine: Italian preferred, also Laodicean and Arabian 
copper; tin; lead; coral; topaz; thin clothing and inferior sorts of all kinds; bright 
coloured girdles cubit wide; storax, sweet clover; flint glass; realgar; aatimoiiy; 
gold and silver coins (yielding a profit on the exchange); ointments, not costly, 
a little; presents for the king; costly vessels of silver, singing boys, beautiful 
maidens for the harem, fine wines, thin clothing of the finest weaves, the choi- 
cest ointments. In the Cera and Pandya kingdoms were imported: coins in great 
quantity; topaz; thin clothing (not much); figured linens; antimony; coral; crude 
glass; copper; tin; lead; wine (not much); realgar; orpimem; and wheat. On the 
east coast of India, where ships called from the west coast, the Ganges and Chryse, 
was received everything made in Damirica and the neighbouring countries and 
most of what came from Egypt 10 . It is important to note that the great work 
does not refer to any article of trade imported on the east coast, farther north, 
in the countries of the Ganges delta or in those of the Himalayan moun- 


We are not sure as to which were. the articles exported to other countries: 
but it may be surmised that the surplus of the grain market, precious products 
of the mines and pearls, India always having been famous for her pearl-fisheries 
and ivory, were exported. The famous spices 11 of India, besides, must have been 
a coveted delicacy in the countries which did not produce them and with which 
India carried on trade. Since clothes of all seasons were extensively used which 

1 Ibid. 

- 2 Ibid., IV. 62. 
Ibid, 60-65. 

, p. 102. 


fl Artbatistra, Bk. II. Ch. 30. 
7 Geo. D/VA of Anc. and Med. India> p. 22. 
fegft*., IV. 69-70. 
Ibid., VL 57. 
10 The Per/plus of the Erythrean Sea, Trans, by Schoff, pp. 287-88. 

. 46, 47; ** VIII. 25 . 


were woven with the finest fibtes capable of being blown away by breath 1 , we 
may infer that cloth was also exported. It may be noted that Pliny refers to such 
importation of cloth into Rome from India, The list furnished by the Periplus of 
the Etythrean Sea 2 is exhaustive. It records that the kingdom of Nambus expor- 
ted through its ports the following articles of trade produced in India or received 
from countries of the north-west, north and north-east : spikenard (coming through 
Scythia, also through Poclais, from Caspapyra, Paropanisus and Cabolitis), Cos- 
tus bedllium, ivory, agate and carnelian (Onyx and murrhine), lycium, cotton 
cloth of all kinds (muslins and ordinary), silk cloth, mallow-cloth, yarn, long pepper 
and other things coming from the various ports. The Cera and Pandya kingdoms 
exported, pepper (produced in Cottonara), fine pearls in great quantity, ivory, 
silk cloth, spikenard from the Ganges, malabathrum from the interior, transparent 
stones of all kinds, diamond, sapphires, and tortoise-shell from Chryse ana from 
the near-by islands. The Cola kingdom likewise sent out pearls and muslins. The 
east coast exported pearls, transparent stones, muslins, and tortoise-shell. The 
same coast, farther north, exported muslin in great quantity. Dosarene sent 
out ivory and the delta of the Ganges malabathrum, Gangetic spikenard, pearls, 
muslins of the finest sort, called Gangetic (may have been the famous Dacca mus- 
lins). China also is recorded to have exported overland through Bactria to Bary- 
gaza (also by way of the Ganges to Damirica) raw silk, silk yarn and silk cloth. 
The Himalayan jcountries in like manner exported mostly malabathrum in three 
forms, the large-ball, the medium-ball and the small-ball. 

Thus we find that most of the articles of trade which the Periplus records 
were extensively used in India as we have shown from the works of the poet. 
The surplus of these articles was evidently exported to, and the requisite quan- 
tity imported from countries beyond India. 

Inland Trade ( 

We have already referred to the briskness of inland trade. Kalidasa re- 
fers to the mineral resources of Kamarupa 3 (the hilly tracts of Assam) which yield- 
ed gems in a large quantity. He has also mentioned mines 4 existing at several 
places. Then, besides, he refers to the pearl-fisheries of the TamraparnI 5 and of 
the Indian Ocean. These gems, pearls and other yields of the sea like the conch- 
shells, other shells (tukt'i) and corals must have been carried and sold in distant 
markets of India where there was a demand for them. Elephant in the same 
manner might have reached other corners of India from Kalinga 6 , Anga 7 and 
Kamarupa 8 . It may be interesting to note that Kalinga has also been mentioned 
by Kautilya 9 as the source of elephants. In the town the market place 10 

*., XVI. 43- 
2 Trans, by SchofF, pp. 287-88. 
*Ragb*. 9 IV. 84. 

4 Ibid.,iII. 18, XVII. 66, XVIII. 22; Mat., V. 18. 
*Ragbu. 9 IV. 50. 
Ibid., IV. 40. VI. 54- 

Ibid., VI. 27. 

Ibid., IV. 83. 

Arthafastra, Bk. II. ch. 2. R^gte., XVI. 41; Mai., pp. 3$, 80. 


(vipani) was crowded with people come for making purchases. Niskraya is the 
word used for purchasing 1 . High shops lined both sides of the highway 2 . Be- 
sides other shops we read of those of liquor 3 . Up on the road people passed 
to and fro selling their articles and making their purchases, while down on the 
river boats plied and ferries ran 4 . The market road was called ajJanamarga 5 . 

Thus the inland as well as foreign trade was a busy concern of the Indian 
merchants. The tradesmen always made sea voyages 6 and braved all the dangers 
of the ocean. We read of a great commercial magnate of Hastinapura suffering 
a shipwreck in the AbUjndna Sdkuntala 1 . The trade routes had been ordinarily 
made very secure on land from robbers and on sea from pirates and the poet 
applauds: "Caravans wandered at ease over mountains as if their own houses, 
over rivers as if wells and over forests as though gardens 8 ." Thus the inland 
trade as well as the shipping and maritime activities added a fair harvest of wealth 
to the national income. 

Coins, Weights and Measures 

Such a flourishing state of trade presupposes the existence of money tran- 
sactions. Coins in this regard become indispensable and we know that they were 
received and counted 9 . In their absence the counting of wealth to the extent 
of fourteen crores 10 could not have possibly conveyed any sense. It is m their 
term that wealth to the extent of fourteen crores were conveyed on hundreds of 
mules and camels 11 . Suvarna 12 and Niska 1 * were the current coins of the country 
and we have a reference to a hundred gold coins 14 called Suvarnas. We know 
that the Guptas struck gold coins of both types, the Dlndras and the Suvarnas 1 ^ 
which were long current in India. There must have been other lesser coins of 
silver and alloy copper current in the country to which, however, Kalidasa does 
not make a 'specific reference. The silver coinage of the Guptas had already 
started with the overthrow of the Western Satraps by Candra Gupta II 16 and the 
copper currency which had been practically confined to the reign of the same king 17 

., II. 55>V. 22. 

TWf Ibid -> XIV. 3- 
Sak.> p. 188. 

, xiv. 30. 

, p. 210. 

7 Ibid, 

&*., XVII. 64. 

*Wld*q 1HT SoA-, P- i J9- 

V, 21. 

11 Ibid., V. 32. 
Mat., p. 88. 
Ibid., K*,, H.49- 

. 88. 

15 Browa: The Coins of India, p. 45. 
16 Ibid, pp. 46-47. 
Ibid., p, 47- 


also existed. Cowries, states Fahien 1 , were a common sight in the market place. 

The poet mentions weighing blances 2 (tula) at several places. A measur- 
ing rod 3 (mdnadandaK) has also been alluded to. The prices thus were paid 
for in terms of money and sale goods, liquid or otherwise, were sold in weighed 
quantity, and articles like cloth with measurable length were measured out with 
a measuring rod when sold. 

Useful arts and crafts were pursued and skilful artisans followed their res- 
pective specialised callings. Metals were worked and articles of the finest designs 
were finished by master goldsmiths. Gold was tested in fire 4 . Ornaments 
were worn in abundance and so their making also must necessarily have occupied 
artisans 5 (Silpi). The use of ornaments as decorative embellishments has been 
extensively made in contemporary and earlier sculptures of Mathura 6 , and other 
places 7 and paintings of Ajanta 8 . Ornaments of gold and precious stones of 
various designs, as warranted elsewhere 9 , are a conclusive proof of the fact that 
much fine work of jewellery was successfully executed. Of ornaments requir- 
ing uncommon skill were the girdle (mekhala) of which an endless variety in de- 
signs is mentioned by Kahdasa and of which scores of excellent patterns we see 
exhibited in the Muttra Museum, and the armlets 11 (keyftra, angadd) of which again 
the poet has mentioned several varieties many of which are exhibited in sculp- 
ture at Muttra. Ear ornaments were sometimes designed after the lotus 12 . Burnish- 
ed gold 13 was hammered out into the shape of several beautiful jewels. Rings 
of various designs were made of which one bore the impression of a serpent 14 . 
Sofnetimes the same had the name of its owner engxaved 15 on it. Then there was 
the setting of jewels in ornaments of gold 16 . The long handle of a flywhisk was set 
with jewels 17 . There were those skilled artisans who worked in precious sto tie ^ 
bored holes in diamonds 18 , cut 19 and gave them and other gems 20 new lustre 21 . 

1 Ta-hierfs Record of the Buddhistic Kingdoms, Trans, by James Legge. See under Madhyadc 1. 

2 Raghu , VIII. 15, XIX. 8, 50; Ku. 9 V. 34. 
8 4JM<W: K*., I. i. 

4 Ragtw , I. 10, 

5 Mal. y p. 4. 

6 Vide ante. 

7 Cf. Exhibits in the Muttra Museum. 

8 Indian Museum, Achaeological section, Calcutta, Sarnath Museum; Lucknow Museum. 

9 Vide ante. 

10 Evidenced at length ante: cf. Ma/., p. 59. 
" Vide ante. 
"Af. 17., 9. 


14 ^HIIUHlWn^ Mai, pp. 4, 69. 

., p. 182. 

16 M*/.,V. 1 8. 

17 M. P., 53;'MJ/., V. 18. 

18 Ragbu., VI. 19, jpjftl. 4, <HIjfc4 VI. 14; 5RTfa5 "OT *** H. 10. 

19 "HlOfcHfad A*-, VI. 6; R^fa., III. 18. 

20 Ibid. 

III. 1 8. 


It seems that in order to render the gems more lustrous new deep lines were in- 
cised 1 (ulUkhitd) on them which work was that of actual engraving or cutting. 
When new precious stones like diamond were first dug out of mines they were 
cleaned and cut, which was endowing them with a samskara* and making them 
samskfta. There were masons 8 . Besides, there were blacksmiths working in 
iron, heating* and melting it and turning it into steel 6 with the help of a steel ham- 
mer 6 (ayoghana). There, again, were weavers who prepared cloth fine enough to 
be blown avfay by the breath 7 . Sculptors hewing image 8 and potters making 
terracotta toys 9 were excellent masters of their art. Besides, there were those 
artisans who made instruments of music, which was a commonly cultivated art* 

Guild of Artisans 

The guild system seems to have prevailed in the field of various trades (filpi- 
sangjpdK). The guild was a corporation of artisans practising the same trade, we 
read of a guild of architects in the Raghuvatisa 1 ** and of the chief of a guild in the 
Abhijndna Sdkuntala 11 . We also read of the Naigawas 12 and the Srestht^^ technical 
terms used to denote respectively the representatives of various trade guilds 14 and 
the chief of the guild of city merchants 15 . The guild was called a sangha and its 
chief a tresthin. Brhaspati, quoted in the Vyavahdramayukha^ refers to a council 
of the Naigamas 1 *. The Vivddaratndkara explains Naigama as a town corpora- 
tion 17 , The ^amdyana also refers to it as a corporate body 18 . From the four 
Taxila coins it would appear that these Naigama corporations issued coins also 19 . 
We may also here remark that the guilds of artisans were great manufacturers 
and agents of merchandise. The Mandasor inscription of Kumara Gupta and 
Bandhuvarma records the building of a noble and unequalled temple of the- 
bright-rayed sun 'by the silk-cloth weavers as a guild with the stores of wealth 
acquired by the exercise of their craft 20 / It was these guilds which were the chief 
manufacturers of the daily articles of use including the cotton and silk fibres and 

*., VI. 6. 
2 B^pto., III. 1 8; Sa&.> VI. 6. 

&**., XVI. 38- 

4 Ibid., XIV. 33. 

5 mflvH (Cf. the etymology of the word) Ibid. 

6 Ibid. 

7 Ibid., XVI. 43. 

* Ibid., XVI. 39, XVII. 36; M. P., 33, 34- 
. 247. 

xvi. 3 8. 

. 13. 
p. 219. 

14 Jayaswal: Hindu Polity, Part II, p. 105. 
A*. r p. 7 i. 

16 Mookerji: Local Government in Ancient India* p. 127. , 
"Ibid., p. 1 14, Note. 

18 II. 14, 54., Kasinath Pandurang Parab Edition, Bombay, 1888. 
lf Cunningham: Coins of Attaint InJta, p. 63. 
80 Fleet: Gup fa Inscriptions, p. 86, 


cloth which flooded the foreign markets and drained much moixey out of Rome 
against which Pliny so resentfully protests. 


In the Gupta epigraph, quoted above, a beautiful advertisement is implied. 
It is recorded on behalf of the guild of silk-weavers who built the sun temple 
referred to therein. The interesting advertisement reads: ^ "(J ust as) a woman, 
though endowed with youth and beauty (and) adorned with the arrangement of 
golden necklaces and betel leaves and flowers, goes not to meet (her) lover in a 
secret place, until she has put on a pair of coloured silken .cloths, (so) the whole 
of this region of the earth, is adorned through them as if with a silken garment, 
agreeable to the touch, variegated with the arrangement of different colours, 
(and) pleasing to the eye." 1 

Banking and Deposit 

We have a reference to the banking and deposit in the works of Kalidasa. 
He speaks of niksepa*. Niksepa is what is deposited with another in trust, and 
with the object of taking it back. Njasa* is another banking term meaning de- 
posit Ntvi is what remains after deducting all the expenditure already incurred 
and Excluding all revenues to be realized. It is thus the net balance. We learn 
from inscriptions that guilds served in ancient India as^banks receiving deposits 
and advancing loans of money 4 . The contemporary evidence of the Mandsor 
Inscription of Kumara Gupta and Bandhuvarma may be cited as an interesting 
case in point 5 . 


Population of India was mainly composed of the Aryan descendants living 
peacefully and pursuing their respective callings. Foreigners like Persians 6 and 
Greeks 7 also lived to the north-west of India 8 . Hunas 9 and Kambojas 10 were resi- 
dents of the north, i. e., the valleys of the Oxus and Yarkand. Then there were 
the mountaineer tribes of the Pulindas* 1 and the semi-civilized Kirdtas 1 * and 
Utsavasankefas of the Vindhyan and Himalayan forests. Besides these there 

T: tfo*yltd T cTR^Tt qWiHg*J*H**iyilEt W3 II U. 20; Translation by Fleet, 
C. 1. 1, III, p. 85. 

v. 21. 

4 Mookerji: "Local Government tn Ancient India, pp. 94-98. 

5 Fleet: Gupta Inscriptions, p. 86. 
, 6 Ra&h. 9 IV. 60. 

7 Mai., p. 102. 

8 R^gA*., IV. 60 ff; Mai, p. 102. 

9 436*., IV. 68. 

10 Ibid., 69. 

11 Ibid., XVI. 19,32. 
"Ibid., IV. 76;**., I. 6,15. 
18 fegfe., IV. 78. 


were other foresters 1 also. It was mainly a class of this forest population that 
lived on freebooting and waylaying the travellers. Such an instance of robbery 
is furnished by the MdlavikdgnitmtrcP. The Hindu population lived in the pro- 
vinces or kingdoms named in the 4th and 6th cantos of the }Laghuvamsa already 
enumerated elsewhere. Overpopulation was settled in newly formed villages 
to which people migrated from overpopulated areas 3 . 

Wealth and Luxury 

We have thus seen above that the age of the poet was one of a-ffluence, plenty 
and luxury. The economic prosperity may be well instanced in the description 
given of Ayodhya and Kundinapur in the Raghuvamsa* and of Alaka in the Me- 
ghadutd*. There in Ayodhya were streets lined with rich shops and the Sarayu 
was filled with rowing boats. 

The Household 

We have already spoken of the household elsewhere 6 . It will be worth- 
while to recapitulate the same below. Palaces of kings were enormous 
establishments thronged* with people coming in and going out. They were 
richly built and highly decorated with auspicious and beautiful paintings 
and were fitted with several apartments. Houses of the rich were many- 
storeyed buildings to which were attached pleasifre gardens and tanks. 
These houses, particularly the tanks, had beautiful, and sometimes even crystal- 
line, flights of steps. The courtyards of pa/laces and rich mansions were paved 
with crystalline slabs. Mansions had also attic rooms, balconies and terraces. 
Luxury-loving kings had summer-houses called Samudragrha to shelter them from 
the summer heat. Houses were further furnished with water-fountains and pipes 
and in the hot weather rich people passed away the heat by retiring in cool rooms 
fitted with benches of costly stones. They used the sandal paste in summer in 
profusion which gave them a cooling effect. 

Within the house there moved to and fro people wearing loose flying gar- 
ments of the most artistic patterns, sometimes having the forms of flamingoes wo- 
ven in their texture. The fine fibred clothes capable of being blown away with 
the breath were those naturally used in summer and the heavy warm woollen ones 
were worn during the winter season. People had dresses suitable for the day and 
night. Several oils 8 were used. The oil of Ingudi was used for the head 9 
as well as for burning lamps 10 . 

V. io. 

8 # . 37. 

* XIV. 30, XVI. 1 1-3 8, VII. 
5 Uttaramgba, 

ViJk* 9 p. *6; 
f Ral*., XIV. 38. 
p. 7 j. 

., XIV. 81; &*., IV. 13. 

CHAPTER xv 271 


The utensils of the household of kings and nobles were made of gold 1 and 
precious stones. We have already given a complete list elsewhere 2 ofthe items 
of furniture used in an Indian home. 

The domestic cattle were well looked after. The cow was venerated. She 
yielded the nourishing milk, curds, butter and clarified butter. The items of food 
have already been discussed at length elsewhere 3 . 

Thus we find that Kalidasa gives a very rich and prosperous picture of the 
people of India \*hcn he lived and wiotc and when wealth reckoned in hundreds 
of million coins was conveyed on hundreds of mules and camels. 


^TT^vHT l\.aghu. y II. 36. 

2 Vide ante. 

3 Ibid. 




Subjects of Study 

Kalidasa has dealt exhaustively, directly and indirectly, with subjects of study, 
teacher,, student life, life in the hermitages which were the centres of education, 
sciences and other literature. This description, however, is traditional, although 
much of it may have been an incident of his own age. He has referred to the 
subjects of study by the word VidydK 1 . Vidyas comprised of four kinds 2 . At 
another place 3 he refers to three Vidyas only on which Mallinatha quotes Kau- 
tilya and Kamandaka 4 , while at yet another we find mention of fourteen Vidyas 5 
as we shall see below. Kautilya also refers to four Vidyas. The poet does not 
specifically refer to these courses of study but the Kamandaka Nttisara enumerates 
them which we find quoted by the commentator while explaining the phrase 
catasrab vidySh* According to Kamandaka 7 the course of study were the follow- 
ing four, namely, (i) Anviksikt, logic, systems of philosophy and metaphysics; 
(z) Tr^/,the three Vedas, their sections, sub-sections and appendages; (3) Vdrtd y 
agriculture, trade and commerce, pastures and rearing of the cattle; and (4) Dan- 
damti^ statecraft, the science of government and administration. The schoo] 
of Manu (Manava) accepts only three sciences, namely, the triple Vedas, Varta 
and Dandanlti and thinks that Anvlksikl is nothing but a special branch of the 
Vedas 8 . According to Brhaspati there are only two sciences, namely, Varta 
and Dandanlti 9 . The school of Usanas declares that there is only one science, 
that of Government 10 . "But Kautilya holds that four, ,and only four, are the 
sciences 11 ." Thus Kautilya agrees with Kalidasa in his enumeration of the Vidyas. 

v., L 8, 23, 88, III. 30, V. 20, 21, X. 71, XVIII. 50; Ssk^ p. 125; V. 25; F/'/fc., pp. 40, 
128; M&L> p. 7. 

2 Ragbu., III. 30. 

3 Ibid., XVIII. 50. _ ^ 

4 ^4ifFl?| ^u*faiHJT ^TR! fat i*iwil <;nk<n I Artha. ^ 

Kam. Here Kamandaka refers to three vidyas discussed by Manu. 
tt., V. 21. 

: Quoted by Ue commentator on Ibid. 

8 IL Sham Sastry: Artbatfstra, Ttans. p. 5. 
Ibid., p. 6. 

11 Ibid, 


The Suhrariiti enumerates thirty Vidyas and sixty-four Kalas 1 and defines the for- 
mer as those whch can be said and the latter as those which can be done by even 
the dumb 2 . Although Kalidasa does not specifically refer to the above divi- 
sions of Vidyas and alludes to them merely categorically, nevertheless, he men- 
tions occasionally a good number of subjects which, when put together, will make 
an exhaustive syllabus of study. We shall make an attempt below to give a syn- 
thetic account of the subjects of study as mentioned by the poet. 

" Of the four kinds of learning or courses of study for a citizen Kalidasa even 
mentions two, namely, vartd 3 &nd dandaniti* by name. Anviksiki comprised sub- 
jects like logic, systems of philosophy and metaphysics. Kautilya defines Am't- 
ksiki as comprising the systems of Sankhya, Yoga, and Lokayata (atheism 5 .) 
The poet has made allusions to almost all the systems of Hindu philosophy as 
we shall see while dealing with Religion ard Philosophy. Here we may satisfy 
ourselves by making a hurried reference to them. Kalidasa, for instance, clearly 
refers to the aphorism nityah fabddrtha sambandhah of the Mimamsakas in his 
phrase vagarthaviva samprktaifi. Similarly he has the Yogas'ltras of Patanjali in 
his mind while describing the scene of undisturbed contemplation of Siva in 
his Kumdia sa 'mbhava* . Several allusions tojo^a-samadhi^ have been made. Similar- 
ly references have been made to the philosophies ofKapila, Kanada and Gautama 
also which we shall discuss in their proper places. ]aiminfl has been mentioned 
even by name teaching one of the six systems although not his own. It is inter- 
esting to note that Raghu learns Yoga from Jaimini for the latter has been 
never known to teach Yoga. Although he has been quoted no less than ten 
times in the ftrahmasutras^ he has never been connected with Yoga. Trayl in- 
cluded the Sruti n orthe revealed literature comprising the four Vedas, R./, Yajus, 
Sdman^ and Atharva\ the Brahmanas, Aranyakas and the Upanisads; Arigas 12 (lit, 
limbs) of the Vedas or aids to their study which were six in number, namely, 
chandas (prosody), mantra (hymns), nirukta (etymology), jyotisa (astronomy and 
astrology), vyakarana (grammar) and siksa (pronunciation); Upavedas 13 which 
again were six in number, viz, Dhanurveda (the treatises on the use of bow and arrow 
and other arms), Ayurvejla (medicine), etc. Smrti u , Sastras 15 or the Dharmaas- 

1 Trans, of Sukrantti, Ch. IV. Sec. III. 

2 Ibid , 47-48. 

3 Ragbv*, XVI. 2. 

4 Ibid., XVIII. 46. 

5 Sastry: Arthasatfra^ Trans, p. 6. 

' JO/., III. 47-50. 

8 Ibid., I. 59, III. 40; Ragte., VJII. 17, 22, 24. 

R^., XVIII. 33. 

10 Quoted in footnote No. 3 on p. 715. 

11 Ibid., II. 2, III. 21, V. 2, 22, 2 3 , 2 4 . 

12 Ibid., XV. 35. 
18 Vik., p. 128. 
u Rqgfm., II. 2. 
15 Ibid., I. 19. 


tras like the code of Manu; Itihasa 1 comprising the epics like the 'Ramayana 2 and 
the MababbarattP; and Purana 4 treating of the genealogies of gods and kings in 
the various Puranas. Vdrtd^ as mentioned above, was agriculture, rearing of the 
cattle and trade and commerce. Dandantti*, or the art of government, was a 
recessary subect of study for a king and it might have comprised the sections of 
the Dharmaastras which dealt with the duties of a king, and of treatises on state- 
craft like the Arthafdstra&i Kautilya, Nltisdra of Kamandaka and Sutras of Ufet- 
nas 6 perhaps an earlier recension of the Sukraniti. Thus the curriculum for 
a king comprised subjects bearing on the administration of his kingdom and the 
chastisement of casual offenders wherefor he was expected to have an akunthi- 
tdbuddhi in the Sastras 7 (the scriptures and the Artha$dstras\ besides those parked 
out for an ordinary student. 

At another place we find mention of fourteen kinds of Vidyas 8 vidjd'parisan- 
khydja. . . .catasrodasa) after the manner of Manu. Manu, quoted by the commen- 
tator 9 on this point enumerates the following fourteen kinds of the Vidyas: six 
Angas of the Veda, the four Vedas, Mlmamsa, Nyaya, Purana and Dharmagas- 
tra 10 . Yajnavalkya also has the same 11 . 

Kalidasa specifically mentions the following: Sruti 12 , R> 13 , Yajtts 1 *, Sdmaifi*, 
Atharva, Angas 17 of the Vedas (sdngam vedam\ and the Smrtis 18 following the 
sense of the Srutis. . The mention of Dhanurveda and its several terms, namely, 
dltdha^i vdjinirdjand* 1 . etc. may warrant the existence of the other Upavedas 
also of which medicine (Ayurveda) has been alluded to, which we shall 
discuss below. Smrtis have been referred to in the phrase Jastra 22 which also 

P- 9 1 - -^WTHPft^: TTTfoT R^g**., XI. 70, XVIII. 23. 

T: Ibid., I. 4; M. P., 48. 

L 10, XVIII. 23. 
5 Ibid., XVIII. 46. 
8 ^^lfH^^t5TH^l(H ? lW &<> in. 6. 

7 Rfighu., I. 19. 

8 Ibid., V. 21. 

9 Ibid. 

T II Manwrnrti. 

18 Rffgttt., II, 2, III. 21, V. 2, 22, 23, 24. 

^^firei Ibid., V. 23 refers to all the four Vedas. 

. 41. 
!. 59- 

17 ibid., xy; n. 

18 ^fT^ wRlW^I*^ Ibid,, II. 2. 

**!//*., p. 128. 

t9 Vide ante under Army. 


84 Raghu., I. 19. 


denoted the treatises on statecraft 1 like the ArthaSastra and codes of punishment. 
The study of grammar has been mentioned in expressions like dhator- 
gamandrthamarthavafi, dhdtoh sthdna ivddefdm? pratyayaprakftiyogasannibhah* w\& 
pravrttirdsltSabddndmcaritdrthdcatustay^ which allude to the primitive roots, suffixes 
and prefixes and to the pure and underlined nominal and verbal bases. Again 
there occur analyses of several proper names which point to the same direction. 
Then we read of varnas (alphabets) and their sthdna* (pronunciation) which are 
parts of Sikisa, an anga of the Veda. Further, study of etymology may be ins- 
tanced in phrases like vdgdrthdvivasamprktau vdgdrthapratipattaye* and ksatdtktla 
trdyata itt 7 , which refer to the inseparability of a word from its sense and to the 
elucidation of the sense of a word through etymological analysis. Mention of 
the RdMoyana* as the first style and model of kavya by Valmiki is made by name 
while the }Jidmdyana y the MahdbhdratazTid. other such metrical compositions have 
been referred to by the phrase ptirvasuribhih*. Puranas (purvavrtta) naturally 
formed part of the knowledge of the Purdvidas, the narrators of the 
Puranas. Other metiical kdvyas and dramatic plays extant in the time of 
Kalidasa have been alluded to by him in the names of their authors, namely, 
Bhasa, Saumilla and Kaviputra 11 whose superiority in the excellence of their poe- 
tic pieces he is not prepared to acknowledge 12 . Treatises on polity and gover- 
nance also formed part of the study of a king and his ministers and were quoted 
in discussions 13 . Music and dancing as well as acting were other important sub- 
jects which were mostly specialized by ladies, particularly the courtesans 14 who 
practised them as trade 15 . Sarmistha h#s been credited with the invention of a par- 
ticular kind of dance based on a certain order of pacing called catuspada 1 *, and with 
the accompanying music the entire system is known as cbalika 11 . It is contained in 
a distinct treatise composed by her 18 . From the Allahabad Pillar Inscription of 
Samudra Gupta we learn that he was a past master of poetry and music 19 . His 
excellence in music is also attested to by his Lyrist type of coins. Aja also is 

^n^mng Af*/.,p. ii. 
R*^., III. 21. 
8 Ibid, XIII. 58. 
4 Ibid., XL 56. 

X. 36. 

8 Ibid., I. i. 
7 Ibid., II. 53. 

Ibid., XV. 33. 

9 Ibid., I. 4. 

10 Ibid., XL 10, XVIII. 23, 

11 Text quoted ante\ Ma/., p. 2. 
"Ibid., I. 2. 

w lbid., I. 8, a?9HKchH p. 11; flrar Ibid. 
14 fegte., III. 19, XIX. 35. 
"Ibid., XIX. 35. 
16 MMl. y p. in 
M Ibid. 

8 *|PI*6I41: ?f?f Ibid. 
19 Text quoted ante. 


reported to have taught fine arts (lalita kaldvidhau)tQ\& wife 1 . Agnimitra runs 
a school of fine arts where music, dancing, acting and painting arc taught 2 . Agni- 
varna puts courtesans and their preceptors to shame by pointing out their mistakes 
in singing and dancing 8 . Thus kings were expected to be proficient in fine arts 
no less than in other important branches of learning. Painting was likewise an 
academical pursuit. We read of architecture, sculpture and terracottas and of 
pots and utensils of clay and metals and of other useful arts of the goldsmiths and 
blacksmiths. A guild of artisans is mentioned 4 and we may therefore safely con- 
clude that students of the above useful arts must have flocked to the various guilds 
for training in their respective professions. Soldiers, particularly the Ksatriyas 
and kings, were trained in the use of arms which called for the physical strength 5 
of the student and even occasionally was endowed with a subtle occult influence 
through the eharm of mantras 6 . Kings learnt, besides other aspects of learning, 
diplomacy and various other deceptive 7 items of the statecraft as part of danda- 
niti. Astronomy and astrology have also beem mentioned and so has been men- 
cioned medicine. But of astronomy and medicine we shall treat later. Other 
arts were of magic. AparajitcP was a kind of magic, otherwise known as Sikhd- 
bandhim vidyd* which made one free from all molestation 10 . It was chanted while 
the iikha was being tied. Another kind of magic known as the TiraskarinI 
vidyd 1 * made one invisible the moment one chanted a particular mantra. A fourth 
stranded the movements of a snake within a charmed circle 12 . 

Here we must distinguish between the liberal education and the training in 
the useful arts. Besides the primary education (to which we shall refer below), 
which may h^ve be en imparted ordinarily to all, the technical education naturally 
fell to the respective callings of men, who may be easily classed among the follow- 
ing, namely, kings, nobles, state officers, teachers, priests, militaty-mcn, musi- 
cians and actors, workers in metals, other craftsmen, artisans, etc. Vdstu and the 
like were the usual ?rts which naturally formed a branch of learning specialized 
by a particular class. For the apprentices learning the useful arts Manu 13 , 
Yajfiavalkya 14 , Brhaspati 16 , Katyayana 16 , Narada 17 , and Gautama 18 prescribe 

3 Rsgbi., VIII. 67. 

2 Cf. Mai, Acts I and II. 

8 Evidenced ante, 

. 4. 

57 >59- 

tne slx expedients, four kinds of Rajani i, etc. quoted in the Thoughts on 

Polity. Vide Ante. 

p. 40. 


20 Pandit: Vikramorvctfi, II. Note on the passage. 
u l^.,pp. 41,47, 49, 72. 
" Raghu., II. 32; Kx. y II. 21. 
18 Manttsfnfti> IV. 146, VIII. 299 300. 

14 Y%tiavalkyasmrti> II. 187. 

15 XVI. 6, 

* Colebrooke's Digest of Hindu Law, Vol. II. p. 7. ir Naradasmrti, V. 16-21. 18 II. 43-44. 


special rules, 

The above are the subjects which Kliditsa mentions in his writings, a 
thorough study of which awakened in the pupil a sense of perfect discipline 1 
(prabodhavinaydviva). A study of the language 2 (van may a) started with first picking 
up the alphabets 3 (varnnaparicayani). The characters \aksara) of the alphabets 
were first picked up by writing them on the ground 4 . This practice obtains 
even now in some pathaSalas of the eastern U.P. and Bihar. 

Initiation of a Student 

The commencement of education was marked by a particular ceremony cal- 
led Upanayana* with which the student was initiated in his new venture by his 
teacher. The choice of an intelligent pupil was the credit of a good teacher 6 , 
but the latter was not blamed if an initiated pupil turned out to be dull 
and slow in learning his course of study; 7 yet that teacher was commended 
who had the excellence of imparting education to his pupil of little merits and 
making him grasp the sense of a subtle art or science 8 . 


The teacher, the priest-preceptor, was held in high reverence 9 by his pupils 
and by the people at large including their sovereign. He was respected as a very 
god and it was supposed that nothing was unattainable by him which he desired, 
His status and ability were such that the king again and again approached him 
for advice in his difficulties 10 . The common names for the teacher were Guru 11 
and Acarya. He was generally the head of his establishment. In an institution, 
whether a State school or a hermitage, there were several teachers 12 . The diver- 
sity of subjects naturally called for a multiplicity of teachers. Hucn Tsang re- 
fers to a hundred professors lecturing at one time on as many diverse subjects 
in the University of Nalanda 13 . The religious preceptor was known by the simple 
term Guru 14 . Another sort of teachers was called Upddhydya 1 *, who presumably 
worked under the Guru or Kulapati. Those who taught the professional and 

u., X. 71. 
2 Ibid., III. 28. 
*Sak. 9 p. 150; faTWTTOT^ &7gft., HI. 28, XVIII. 46. 

4 ibid., XVIIL 46. 

6 Ragb*., III. 29. 

6 Mai., p. 19, text quoted ante. 

7 Ibid., text quoted ante', ibid., I. 6; Ragbu., III. 29. 
Mai, II. 9. 

9 5Tqrqfft^ Raglw.,1. 59> <pft^g. TTCR *7- 5T<W^wRwrl 1 nTPRr: Nal II, 9, 40; 
Cf. Ibid., 1.61-64, 71-72. 
u.,l. 61 ff. 

11 Ibid., II. 40, III. 29, V. I. 17, 20, 24, 31, 38; srHTR A*#-, pp. 4, M, *9> 6o etc - 

12 ^ Hagbu., II. 40, HI. 29, V. i, 17, 20, 24, XVIII. 50; STHTrf MMi, pp, 4, 14, 19 etc ' 

xdHMH Vik. 9 pp. 60, 61. 

18 Water's Translation of Huen Chwang Nalanda, 165, Hana, p. 130, 
14 Cf. note No. i. 
1B F/>fe.,pp. 60, 61. 


technical arts like music, acting, dancing and painting have been styled in the 
M&lmkagnimitra as Acaryas 1 . Ganadasa and Hatadatta are such acaryas whose 
contest in the dramatic art (vijndnasangbarsa) is described in the Malavikagpi- 
mitra*. The specialization of different topics of learning had tended to make 
the various lores hereditary 3 (kulavidya). The head of the teaching institution, 
which wa$ mostly the hermitage of the sage, was called Kulapatfi. The term illus- 
trates the fact that the entire establishment breathed a homely atmosphere and 
it was consequently known as a Kula, family, of which the Guru or sage was the 
head. His love for his concern is brought forth by his designation. 


The teachers of the penance grove do not seem to have received any pay, 
but those of an institution run at the state expense drew regular salaries 5 (yetand) 
from the coffers of the state. Such an institution with a building containing 
several windows commanding a grand landscape has been described in the 
Mdlavikdgnimitra*. This, however, seems to have been a place where only inmates 
of the royal household were taught. 

School of Music and 'Painting 

There the students studied music and painting. We read of exercises 7 
given to students. Besides great authorities, sutirthas 8 , on the various 
subjects of art, there were lay persons equally adepts (visesajnah) in them who 
occasionally judged contests between teachers 9 . The teacher succeeding in the 
contest was rewarded 10 by the king (puraskdramarhati). This particular school 
mentioned in the Mdlavikdgnimitra had two branches in one of which was taught 
music (sangitaJdla) 11 and im the other painting (citrasdld^). In later times when the 
system of hermitages serving as educational institutions declined pdthasdlds of 
the mediaeval type came into existence. We read in an epigraphical record of 
the generous gift of a donor who assigned some land for the maintenance of a 
grammar h^ll in the temple at Tiruvorraiyur called * Vydkarana-ddna vydkhydna- 
mandaptf for the upkeep of the teachers and pupils who should study grammar 
there 1 *. In another record there is a reference to the establishment of a school for 
the study of the Vedas, Sastras, Grammar, Rupdvatdra, etc. in a certain jananatha- 

x pp. 4, 14, 19, 

*Ibid.,V. 7,IUrf*.,XVn. 3. 

* Raghft., I. 95; .&*., pp. 2i, 3* 84. 
JtafHrttt Mtt,p. 17- 

* [bid*, p. 9, text quoted ante. 

7 <MVa*MIHK Vik*> p. 27. 

8 g|t)f)^i^r*ii^n^^*jfsiifttar Ate/., p. 14. 

]%*N^ MlFVf*: Ibid., p. 15, iiwnf*n p. 17, snH;?PT^WreT Ibid., p. 15. 
* Ibid., 24. 
11 Ibid., pp, 4, 6. 

AMAVM, *H* !> V* 

13 Mookerji: I^*/ Qotommmt in^Ancimt India, p. 274 


niandapa by a royal grant of Virarajendra Deva (A, D. 1062*). During the time 
of Kklidasa the system of gurukula seems to have yet flourished and not quite 
died out as may be gathered from abundance of such references, and the reference 
to the state school of the Mdlavikagnimitra would mark the beginning of the 
type of institutions recorded in the inscriptions cited above, 

Life of the Student 

When the pupil was first initiated by his guru his period of studentship com- 
menced. He was called a s/sya 2 or varni*. The latter designation was in conse- 
quence of the fact that the pupil had to lead a life of strict celebacy till the comple- 
tion of the courses of his study. The teacher's feet was touched as a mark of 
obeisance at the hermiage 4 . The pupil became a resident of the hermitage of his 
teacher and put on the skin of the raradeer in the manner of other residents of the 
aSrama. Although Ragbtt did not enter a hermitage for his education, he is said to 
have put on the skin of a ruru deer 5 which was an essential form of conduct in the 
hermitages. In the penance grove the pupil slept on a mat of kuSa grass in the 
manner of Dillpa 6 . There a very cordial 7 and intimate relationship grew up between 
the teacher and the taught. Kalidasa himself was perhaps taught in a hermitage, 
which is suggested by a detailed description given by him in the ist canto of the 
^.aghuvamsa. His Vasistha, Knva, Marica and Cyavana arc typical Kulapatis of 
their respective guru-kulas as is Varatantu (Kaghu., V.) a typical pupil. It was in this 
surrounding of purity and affection, where even the most timid deer frolicked 
and played with him 8 , that the student pursued his courses of study 9 . There the 
masters of th e Vcdic literature 10 and learning infused in him the secrets of the 
Aryan culture. A Ksatriya was at times taught the use of arms by his own father 11 ; 
but there is a reference to this too as being taught in the hermitage 12 . There 
residing, he finished the study of Vedas 13 (frutapdradrsra). When he had com- 
pleted the period of learning the fourteen vidyas 14 he was permitted to return 
home (anumatogrhayd). It may be noted here that treatises 15 make the permission 
of the Guru obligatoiy and the poet only conforms to this older tradition. Then 

1 Ibid., p. 275. 

2 Ragfw. 9 V. I. 1 8, XV. 74; .fe*., p. 84- 
8 Ragbu., V. 19. 

4 Ibid., I. 57. Dihpa, an old pupil of Visistha, does so. 
6 Ibid., III. 31. The commentator quotes Manu on this. 

8 *WHH ftfflt (HHTW Ragbu., i. 95. 
., v. 7. 

Ibid., L 88. 


11 uRiftkiraf ft^r ibid., m. 31. 

18 Vik. 9 V. Ayus comes taught from the hermitage of Cyavana. 
13 3<TmfW &** V. 23. flhdHKqVII !bid., 24. 
14 Ibid., 21, SfFTOfaf Ibid., 4* 
i* Ibid., HI. 3 j. 


the graduate performed the goddna 1 ceremony and married 2 . This goddna 
ceremony was performed at the close of the student life and prior to marriage 3 . 
The graauate or Sndtaka married immediately after. Manu enjoins goddna to be 
performed by the Brahmana in his sixteenth year, by the Ksatriya in his twenty- 
second year and by the Vaisya in his twenty-fourth year 4 . Goddna ceremony, 
which was the shaving of the hair on chin, was performed at the appearance 
of the first crop of hair on the face. 

Period of Study 

Therefore it may be concluded that the end of the period of study for the 
the chrija generally ranged between the sixteenth and the twenty-fourth year of 
his age. 


Students were naturally both slow 5 and brilliant 6 . Malavika, for example, 
is medhdvini (very brainy) and paramanipuna 1 (perfect adept). The choice and ini- 
tiation of an intelligent pupil reflected credit on the part of the teacher 8 , and it was 
supposed that the degree of success of a teacHer much depended upon the pro- 
portion in which his pupil was slow or intelligent to receive his teaching, other- 
wise the skill of the teacher had chances of being wasted in the manner of an ar- 
ticle placed in a utensil of bad metal 9 , and consequently no discredit was attached 
by a section of thinkers to those teachers 10 who had by chance initiated slowpupils. 
Nevertheless, it was contended that the method of teaching on the part of a 
teacher should be so excellent as to turn even a dull pupil into an intelligent one 
and make him fully receive tfte secret of his lore. The excellence of his art must 
not be affected by the dullness of his pupil just as gold remains unimpaired even 
when tested in fire. 11 In fact the capacity of the pupil to receive and absorb his 
teacher's teaching was supposed to grow in proportion to the samskdras (impres- 
sions) of his earlier birth 12 . It was the previous samskdras that determined a pu- 
pil's dullness or intelligence. Thus it is evident that theories regarding types of 
students differed as they do now. When the pupil had completed his course and 
had married he was termed a sndtaka. Kalidasa refers to Brahmin sndtakas 

1 Ibid. 
* Ibid. 
8 Ibid. 

cf. || Manu quoted by the Commentator on Raghu., III. 


r: Ma/., p. 19. 
6 ggfUtft. R^#., III. 30; text quoted anie\ MaL> p, 8, - 

7 mi., p. s. 

8 Ibid., p. 19. 

8 Ibid., I, 6; cf. also Raghu., III. 29. 
.\UI. 9 p. 19. 
g Ibid., p. %. 


receiving largesses on the occasions of marriage 1 and coronation 2 . 

It seems that no fees were charged from the pupil At the end of his stu- 
dent life 3 he presented to his teacher something by way of fees for learning 4 
(srutaniskraya-vidydmulya commentator) which was technically known as 
gurudaksjna*. But to receive something from pupil was considered by a section 
of teachers so, low as to occasion their wrath at the mention of the gurudaksind 
by a pupil 6 . Thus there was a marked reluctance on the part of the guru to 
receive anything as fees for his teaching from his pupil. It has been even affirmed 
that one. who teaches for an income or subsistance is verily one who trades in 
learning 7 and is therefore condemnable. 


Kalidasa has alluded frequently 8 to writing. We read of letters 9 , letters with- 
in an envelope 10 , love letters 11 , sometimes written on the leaves of lotus 12 , and of 
other written documents 13 . Letters had a set form and were mostly commenced 
with a mention of blessing and a few phrases of affection 14 which was known as 
svastivacanika**. We also read of letters written in a versified form 16 (kaiyabaddha). 
Writing of biographies (carttam 11 ) is also referred to at one place. There are 
references to characters inscribed on arrows 18 ard rmgs 19 . An allusion has been 
made to the materials of writing 20 (lekhanasadbanam). It is not specifically men- 
tioned as to what these materials were. But two of these, bburjatvacd- (the skin 

1 Ra$u. 9 VII. 28. 

2Ibul.,XVIL 17. 

3 dMMfKl' Iblcl > V. 3 8 WRWTSTRT Ibid., 4- 

Ibid.,V. 22. 

6 Ibid , i, 20, 24, 

6 '' e ' Ib*d 2 1 . 

8 Ragbu., III. 28, XVIII. 46; Sak., pp. 150, 97, 100, 124, III. 23, VII. 5; Vtk., pp. 44, 45, 

46,47, 5*. 54- 

9 Vtk. 9 p. 56; Mat., pp. ic-ii, 102. 
10 Text quoted ante Mal. 9 p. 101. 

u 5RW3T qt-nqvfo *^> P- 6 7 IIL 2 3- 

12 Ibid., p. 100. 

1 3 Ibid., p. 219; Vtk. 9 Il. 13. 

14 Vik.> p. 46; ^fer A4^/., p. 102. 
16 Ibid. 

16 ^oiHrq- Vik., p. 54. 

"ifat.VII. 5- 

Ragku., III. 55, VII. 38, XII. 103; Ku. 9 III. 27, V. 127; Vik., V. 7. 

19 jtf/fc., pp. 49, no, VI. 12. 

Ibid., p. ioo. 



of the birch tree) and bhfirjapatra 1 (leaves of the same tree), have been frequently 2 
mentioned as materials to write upon. Students beginning to learn alphabets 
wrote on the ground 3 , presumably with a piece of chalk or chalk-like substance 
which practice is retained uptil now in most of the old type village schools of 

1 Vfk. 9 pp. 44, 53- 

2 Ku. y I. 7; ViA. 9 pp. 44 (thrice), 53. 

3 Raghu., XVIII. 46. 




We shall now discuss below the works of Kalidasa themselves and the sciences 
find other literature cited in his writings. No study of literature furnished by 
the poet* can be complete which ignores the invaluable literary treasure which he 
himself has created. Therefore a study of what he himself produced becomes al- 
most imperative at the outset and we consequently must start with a discussion 
of his own works. 

Works of Kalidasa 

These works bear ample testimony to his considerable acquaintance 
with the Vedas, the philosophy of the Upanisads, the Rhagavadgitd, the Pur- 
anas, the philosophical systems of the Sankhya, Yoga, Vedanta, Mlmamsa and 
Nyaya, medicine nd astronomy and to works on polity and other sciences. For 
the sake of clarity and convenience we shall divide our study in this chapter 
between two sections, namely, Internal and External literature. Internal litera- 
ture is obviously' the poet's works whereas the external one is that reflected in 
the same. We shall proceed first with the former. 

Of a score of works ascribed to his authorship only the following seven may 
be authentically proved to have been the production of his genius. They are: 
the Abhijndna Sd'kuntala, Vikramorvati, Mdlavikagnimitra, Raghtwamsa, Meghadtita, 
Kumdrasambhava and }$Jusamhdra. Of these the first three are plays and the rest 
four epics and short lyrical poems. We shall treat them individually. 


Abhijndna Sdkuntala ranks undoubtedly the foremost in the whole range of the 
Sanskrit dramatic literature. It has been pronounced by the greatest masters of 
the art of dramaturgy as one of the best works of the literatures of the world. The 
genius of the poet has been remarkably displayed in this work in his treatment of 
the admirable graces of poetry, in the exquisite "description of nature, in the 
melody of the rhythm, in the lucid simplicity of his language, in the grand concep- 
tion of his ideas and in the pathetic grace with which the various scenes are de- 
picted. The piece is a ndtaka and contains seven Acts. Its theme has been drawn 
From the Mahdbhdrata but it deviates at several places from the narrative of its 
source. The pathos and tenderness of the grief of the heroine is portrayed with 
consummate sldlL Her attachment to her comrades, lower animals, trees, creep- 
ers, the sorrow of separation felt by the sage Kanva, have so much life in them 
that they cannot fail to win for the immortal bard undying fame and monume&tal 
"glory in dramatic skill and poetic diction. 



The Vikramorvati belongs to the class of Trotaka and is completed in five 
Acts. It represents events partly terrestrial and partly celestial. The theme is 
taken from the Rgpvda 1 . This play is very skilfully finished and the succession 
of events herein is very natural. Dr. Wilson has rightly pointed out that "Fate 
is the ruling principle of the narrative and the monarch, the nymph and the sover- 
eign of the gods himself are portrayed as subject to the inscrutable and inevi- 
table decrees of destiny," 


Mdlavikdgnimitra\$^\K] in which court life is fully depicted. Though this play 
does not contain either the dignity and the tenderness of the Sdkuntala or the na- 
tural sequence of events of the Vikramorvati yet its importance cannot be under- 
rated. The simplicity of the theme is particularly marked, the story having been 
taken from the life of a historical personage Agnimitra, the son of Pusyamitra 
and the Viceroy of the southern possessions of his empire. The description of 
events is lifelike and the court intrigues would have held the breath of the au- 
dience for a time. Nevertheless, the play is not of the first order and the pain- 
staking exposition of thethcory of music and acting, however learned ard detailed, 
must have tired out the patience of the audience. It tends to turn prosaic. 

The RagbwafttJa is an epic. The line of the wcthdkavyas inaugurated by the 
great and earliest poet Vdlmiki has been consummated by the genius of Kali- 
dasa in his JLaghwamSa. With perfect poetical skill the poet lias compressed the 
story of the Ramayana within the scope of ninteen cantos adding here and there his 
own contribution to the theme. Philosophic reflection is happily mixed with 
descriptive- verse, the beauty of which at places remains unsurpassed by any 
other composition in the whole range of the Sanskrit literature. The great work 
may rightly rank as the finest specimen of the mahdkdvja as defined by writers of 

The YMmdrasambhava also seems to be intended as a mahdkdvya but it has been 
left unfinished by the poet. The reader is struck by its rich variety, the bril- 
liance of its fancy and the great warmth of its feeling. While describing the pro- 
gress of the procession of the^marriage party of Siva in the city of Himalaya, 
Kalidasa repeats several verses of the sLaghuvamfa evidently for the sake of beauty 
and graphic description. The theme of description happens to be the same in 
both the works which is the procession of a marriage party. The YMtndrasam- 
bbava is replete with natural beauties. It ends with the eighth canto. 

The Magbadfita has won the applause of the western critics. It has been nearly 


as often translated as the odes of Horace. It is a lyric piece of a hundred and odd 
stanzas. The theme of the lyric is absolutely original and its treatment is sub- 
jective. It may stand to proclaim the inauguration of a romantic era in Sans- 
krit poetry. The touches are brilliant and personal. The use of so elaborate a 
metre as the Manddkrdntd throughout the work proves its author to be a masterly 
wielder of poetic pen. 


* * i 

The Rtitsamhdra* is a descriptive poem of the six Indian seasons. It contains 
brilliant scenes depicting the beauties of nature where the human feelings have been 
brought in full accord with the voice of nature. Erotic scenes are interspersed 
here and there and the poet has successfully interwoven the expression of human 
emotions with his brilliant and graphically detailed penpicture of nature. Nature 
has everywhere played a prominent part in the works of Kalidasa but being dis- 
satisfied with them all, as it were, he treats an exclusive theme devoted to nature 
and to make it live he has brought a stream of human sentiments to flow within. 
Nowhere-has the poet been so much in sympathy with nature as here. His obser- 
vation and skill in depicting weather have nowhere been so striking and the hues 
of his pictures so varied as in the }Ltusamhdra. 


One chief reason of Kalidasa's, superiority over other poets is his brilliantly 
polished style. There is no other Sanskrit poet who possesses such command 
over language, so simple and withal so graceful. All the works of the poet have 
been written in what is known as the Vaidarbhi style which contains the ten chief 
excellences of a poetical composition as mentioned by Dandin 1 . Kalidasa's poems 
have been taken for a standard of poetical perfection and natural melody. His 
similes are known for their aptress. His style is simple, graceful and natural 
and he generally touches a point and passes on working upon the reader's feeling 
to exercise his full imagination. He has an inexhaustible store of fancy and is a 
consummate artist. He stands unsurpassed, even unequalled, in his profound 
knowledge of the human heart, in his delicate appreciation of its most refined 
feelings and in his familiarity with its conflicting sentiments and emotions. 

His language following the convention of Sanskrit drama consists of Sans- 
krit and Prakrit. For his Prakrit he uses Saurasem for prose and Mahdrdstri fpr 
verse. In the Abhijndna Sdkuntala the constables and the fisherman speak 
Magadhl but the Syala uses Saurasem. Prakrit seems to have become stereotyped 
by the poet's time. That is why there are deviations, but of course they are 

The age of Kalidasa had come to appreciate stereotyped tastes which he chal- 

x lenged and replaced or improved upon to a great extent. Everything new was 

spurned at and whatever was ancient was welcomed with zeal and 

he asserted himself and inspired a class of admirers for his newly 


, I. 41. 


and new plays. He declared that things ancient alone were not good simply by* 
virtue of their being ancient and the new ones were not to be necessarily des- 
pised and dismissed as futile merely because of their newness 1 . 

The poet's works together employ a number of meters which are the aryd, 
ttokal vasantatilakd, Sdrdulavikrtdita, upajdti, praharsim, jd/int srucird, sragdhard, 
rathoddhatd, manjubhasim, aparavaktrd, aupachandasikd, vaitdliya^ drutavilambita> 
puspitdgrd, prthm y manddkrdntd^ rndlim^ vawsastha, sikharim^ bdrinJ, indravajrd, 
mattamayfira, wagatd^ totaka y and mahdmdlikd. 

Judging from the comparative merits and poetical and dramatic skill of the 
poet as evidenced in his works, their chronology may be indicated in the following 
order: Rtusaribdra, Mdlavikdgnimitra, Vikramorvati, Raghuvamfa, Kumdrasam- 
bhava, Meghaduta, and Abhijndna Sdkuntala. But since the Yjimdrasawbhava is 
an incomplete work, it may have been attempted last and left unfinished by the 
event of the poet's death. Mallinatha stops with eighth canto. 


There are scores of references in the works of the poet which throw immense 
light on the existing literature of his time. This literature, which we have termed 
external at the outset of this chapter, also incidentally points to the sources of 
Kalidasa's knowledge and to those of his works. Several branches of learning, 
arts and sciences, have been referred to which we shall discuss below. 


We get a fair glimpse of astronomy in the works of the poet. The solar 
system ana other stars have been referred to. Below is given a list of astronomical 
names furnished by him. The planets 2 , nine in number, the zodiacs (nf/// 3 ), 
naksatras* and other stars 5 have been mentioned, some of them even specifically. 
Of the planets, counting by the Hindu system, the following have been speci- 
fically alluded: Siirya* (sun), Candrd* (moon), Bbuwi B or Prthvi (earth), M.angalcP 
(mars), Budha, Brbaspati 11 (]upiter\ Rdbu 1 * and K>/# 13 . The last two have been 
traditionally acknowledged as casting baneful influence 14 . The distance or pro- 

i, I. 2. 
. t III. 13, XII. 28, 29. 

?/.,p 61. 
4 R^., VI. 22. 

*IbicL, IV. 19, VI. 22, ^ K*, VII. 35. 
6 lUgi*., II. 15, III. 13, 22, XII. 25, ct. 

Ibid., I. 46, 83, II. 39> III. 17, V. 6i s VII. 19, XII. 36, XVI. 27, III. 22, VI. 22, VIIL 42, 
XIV, 40, XVIL 30, XVIII. 27; KM., VII. i, 6; j&., p. 96, VII. 22; Vik., pp. 19, 72; Mai., V. 7, etc. 

8 Ra&fa., XIV. 50, etc. etc. 

9 M4f., p. 61, <HT^: (^iflfrg: K5t*yavema). The planet is called flMJKfr" because 
of its dull red colour as seen in the sky which resembles that of a heated charcoal. 

r., XUL 76. 

., n. **, m is, 29; K*M vi. 7 . 


ximity from one another among the planets has been considered as causing good 
or evil 1 according to the circumstances. Of the nafaatrasthe following are on 
record: Gtra*, ViSdkhd*, Pusytfl, PhdlgunP and Rohini*. The existence of Svati 
is also warranted in a passage referring to the catakas 7 . Comets 8 (dh&maketu) were 
considered to auger misfortune to the people 9 . A passage in Vikramorvati has 
the expression 3firyopa$thdnam which according to the Bbagavata 11 refers to the 
six ganas attending each month on the sun. The apsaras of the said passage is 
one of those same. In the Mdlavihdgnimitra there is a passage referring to the 
return of the planet Mars 12 . In a simile 13 a lion constantly watching a pine tree 
without moving from his place is compared to Suradvis (rdhu\ which is the name 
given to the nodes of the path of the moon. Hence the poet implies that Rdbu is 

*Raghu., I. 46; !/;., p. 12. 

8 $ak.> p. 96; Vik., p. 19. 
* Ragbt., XVIII. 32. 

6 Ktf. 9 VII. 6. 

e Sat., VII. 22; Vik., pp. 64, 72; KM., VIII. 82. 

i$ak. 9 VII. 7. 

8 K//.,IL 32. 

9 Ibid., 

1 K/A., p. 86. 

11 Sk. XII. Adh. ii vs. 47-49. "Every month in Surya's progress the R is praise him 
in such of the hymns of the three Vedas as are addressed to him: the Gandharvas sing and 
the Apsarases dance before his car; Nagas serve him as ropes to tie his car; the Yakas accom- 
pany the car as harnessers; mighty Rakasas push the car from behind, and the sixty thousand 
holy Brahmaris called Valakhilyas go forth before him, the Lord Surya, singing his praises." 
Each month these six ganas serve the sun by turns. The names of the Ris, the Gandharvas, 
the Apsarases, the Yakas, etc., that attend upon and serve the sun, are set forth with the months 
in which they serve (stt. 33, 43). We learn there that the Apsaras Kriasthali attends and serves 
in the month of Caitra, Punpkasthali in VaiSakha, Menaka in Jyetha, Rambha in Aa<Jha, 
Anumloca in Bhadrapada, Tilottama in ASvin, Rambha in Kartika, Urv$I in Marg&r^a, Purva- 
citti in Pausa. Grrtaci in Magha and Senajit(?) in Phalguna. The month of Sravana is /omitted 
doubtless accidentally. A commentary on the Bhagavata (fobavarthadtpika) quotes from 
the Kurma Purana certain verses which give all the seven ganas that form the Surya's train of 
attendants in the twelve months. It will be seen that our Otralekha of the Vikramorvatf is 
not among the apsarases enumerated there in the JShagavata or the Kurma Parana unless she is 
identical with one of those there enumerated. According to what Citralekha says she has to attend 
upon the sun in the hot season which comes after the spring; i.e., in Jyestha or Aadha in which 
months according to the Bbagavata the attendant apsarases are Menaka and Rambha, according to 
the Kurma Purana Menaka and Sahajanya. Citralekha can be identified with none of these as 
they are separately mentioned in the play. It is probable therefore either that Citralekha and 
her turn or service in the hot season are creation of our author or, if not, he has refused to fol- 
low slavishly the order of service of the Pura^as and assigned her the month that suited her pur- 
pose best being indebted to the Purana simply for the idea that the apsarases have to attend upon 
the sun by rotation. 

Mdl. The passage reads: "least she should return like the planet Mars." This, it was 
supposed, when turned back towards the Earth, was more favourable than when it had turned 
back from it. In certain positions the planets are said to look towards the Earth and in others 
to turn away from it. When they had turned their back on it they were said to be unfavourable 
and when they were looking towards it they were favourable. Mars is the only exception, 
because it was supposed to cast a favourable influence when it returned towards the Earth* 
., II. 39. 


fixed and does not hunt after the moon to devour her. This is also evident from the 
epithet pradistakald upasthitd. The cow had her time to become a meal of the lion, 
ordained before-hand, and she appeared at the appointed hour, just as the moon 
has her time, and appears before Rahu accordingly. There is a limited area (ariga) 
within which the animal must be, in order to be seized upon by the lion, just as 
there is a limit, on both sides near the node, within which the moon must be for 
the eclipse to be possible. This is the astronomical theory of eclipses which Kali- 
dasa knows scientifically. The cow was copper coloured after entering the pe- 
numbra, just before the actual eclipse takes place. In the SdkuntalcP* a reference 
is made to the 'path of parivaha? The heavens are divided into seven mdrgas 
(paths or orbits) to each of which a particular wind is assigned. The sixth of 
these paths is that of the Great Bear, and its peculiar wind is called Parivaha. The 
wind is supposed to bear along the seven stars of Ursa Major, ar?d to propel the 
heavenly Ganges which is the chdyapatbcP or the milky way of the poet. Even 
avaha the bhftvdyu or the region of clouds and lightning of the Siddhdntasiromani is t 
indirectly referred to in the Sdkuntala, VII. 7, The relation of Citrd to moon is' 
also alluded to 3 . In the month of Caitra when the Citrd rises with the moon the 
latter scans the sky which is rendered cloudless 4 , when the night is free from the 
frost 5 . The beauty of Vifdkhd rising with the moon is also registered 6 . The 
beauty of the moon was supposed to grow by the contact with Robini 1 . The 
period commencing with the contact of the moon with Pba/gttnfwzs considered 
auspicjous for the applying of the cosmetics and other items of toilet to the body 
of the bride on the eve of her marriage 8 . The phases of the moon have also been 
alluded to 9 . Her contact with the planets Budha and Brhaspati has been mentioned 
in a verse 10 . The moon further has been named as the lord of the herbs or plant 
life 11 . On a full moon day the rise of the water of the ocean and the seas due to 
attraction and gravitation has been recorded 12 . Again the act of looking at the 
moon or the, second day of the bright half month has been metioned as auspi- 
cious as also of the people flocking about to have a look at her 13 . The moon re- 
flecting light received from the sun at the end of the dark fortnight is indirectly 
referred to in a verse as we shall see below. Dhruva u , a fixed star was shown to 

* $dk.> VII. 6. According to the Siddhantatiromam> quoted by the commentator Raghava- 
bhafta, the seven courses of the wind in order of their distance from the Earth are Avaha, Pravaha, 
Saihvaha, Udvaha, Suvaha, Parivaha and Paravaha. 

&*#&*., XIII. 2. 
8 Ibid., I. 46. 


F/A,,p. iy,Sak. 9 p. 96. 

* *., VIII. 82; $sk. t VII. 22; Vik., pp. 64, 72. 

Kx., VII. 6. 

9 R*^*., XVII. 30, 
Ibid,, XIII. 76, 

Ibid., III. 17, V. 61, VII. 19, XII. 36, XVI. 27. 
<fU: Ibid., XVIII. 27. 


the bride and the bridegroom to make their relationship and love steadfast. The 
formation of the clouds by smoke (steam), light (heztjjotis), water (salila) and air 
(maruta) together making a compact mass is mentioned in the Meghaduta 1 . There 
is another reference to the young moon receiving and growing by the rays of 
the sun 2 . Thus the principle of the light of the sun being received and reflected 
by the moon was known. The Vardhasamhitd has been quoted by the commen- 
tator to elucidate this sense 3 . A popular branch of astronomy had grown up and 
astrology had been given the place of a pseudo-science. Particular moments 
had been declared auspicious against those inauspicious. The year 4 (sarhvatasara) 
had been divided into six seasons (rttf) called Ntddgha or Grisnia? Varsd* y Saraf* ', 
Hemanta*^ SisircP^ and Vasanta. Further the year was divided into twelve months 
each named after a particular naksatra. A few of these months have been named. 
They are Asadha 11 ^ $ravana v * and Kdrtika. The months of Caitra, Vaidskha and 
Pausa may be inferred from the reference to corresponding naksatras C/'/Az 14 , 
Viidkha 1 * and Pusja 16 . The months had been further parcelled out in days 17 , 
which, although they are not specifically named, are in their turn divided into 
increasingly smaller units of time, and these moments were reckoned as auspi- 
cious or inauspicious according to the principles of astrology, by the distance and 
nearness of the good and evil stars 18 . Thus a higher positon of five planets with 
the sun was considered very auspicious and a son born at this hour was, it was 
supposed, bound to be great and favoured by fate 19 . The direction dominated by 
Sukra was awaited by an invading force 20 . There were auspicious and inaus- 
picious days on which one could start on journey 21 (ydtrdnukfde ahcmi}* The brdhma 
about four o'clock in the morning was an auspicious time when the 

*Af. P., 5. 

The commentator quotes the Varahawwhita: 

4 Ma/., p. TOO. * 

6 bid., n. i. 

7 Ibid., III. I. 

8 Ibid., IV. i. 

9 Ibid., V. i. 

10 Ibid., VI. i. 

11 M. P., 2. 

12 Ibid., 4; R*#&., XIII. 6. 

13 Raghu. t XIX. 39. 

14 Ibid., I. 46. 

15 &ak. 9 p. 96; VrA.,p. 19. 

16 &aghu. y XVIII. 32. 

17 5rr^crpnj ibid.,xix. is. 

18 sfJW? ^ 5^3^ Mai., p. 71. 

19 ff^^fWT^ fl^w., III. 13. 

20 Ku., III. 43. 

Ibid., XVI. 25. 

22 Rqgt*., V. 36. 


hermits and students left their bed. The ceremonies of marriage were sought 
to be performed in the auspicious period of the bright fortnight (sukla paksa) 
on a date marked by the ]dmitra /agna. 1 Jdmitra is the Diametron of the Greeks. 
The Maitra muhtlrta when the naksatra Uttarra phdlgum was in contact with the 
moon was considered particularly favourable for preparing the bride for manage 
by apply ing auspicious cosmetics to her body and thus anointing it for the hovr of 
sacred wedlock 2 . The branch of astrology had become pretty popular ?rd a 
profession 3 had already arisen which lived 4>y reading the fate of the people aS a 
result of the influence cast on them by good or evil stars. 


Medicine had made considerable headway, which may be inferred from many 
references furnished by the poet. Mallinatha, Hemadri, Caritravardhana and 
other commentators repeatedly turn to works of medicine like Vagbhata, Ajir- 
namrtamanjar'i by Kasiriija, Madatyayarikitsa and others in their commentaries for 
explaining passages of the poet. 

As may be expected, there arc several general references to Vyadhi. We 
read of diseases 4 (i>yadhi\ their treatment 5 (cikitsa) medicine 6 (ausadhi) and cure 7 
and of physicians S (twt0)w 9 bbisaja). The following diseases have been referred 
to by the poet :bilc 9 (^///tf), con sumption 10 (rajayaksnia) and dclmum n (stMttipata). 
Bile was supposed to produce aberration, raving and ardent passion 12 , and it was 
sought to be cured by sweet and delicious food 13 , as the Vidusaka desires, for it 
is caused in one case by lack of food 14 . The fatal disease of consumption baffled 
all efforts of the physicians and was incurable 15 . Its symptoms are given as p?le- 
ness of the face, emaciation 16 , walking with the help of a support (in its last stzgc), 
hoarseness of the voice and an increased yearning for the sex 17 . Its cause, how- 

2 Ibid. 


Sffacf irq\ . .sqiftm aL, p. 197. 


6 Kx. 9 II. 48; Ragbit. 9 XII. 97; MJ/., pp. 32, 68. 

7 fftreiTf% Ragb*; XIX. 54, ^f^r: ^^ Vik., p. 56; MaL, p. 69. 

8 t^r Ragbu., XIX. 53; Mai, pp. 32, 68, fq^RagbM.,! II. 12, VIII. 93, XIX. 49. 
.,p. 56. 
. 48, 50. 

11 Ku., II. 48. 

12 Cf. sffftpSPT: ^T*Mr<H<^ M^I^I^fc^WI ^ I 

Ifa^WW ?^f ^T ^T ^IIHM^HK^K^lR^^ II Quoted by the commentator. 
18 . 9 p. 56 qp$ 

bff^W^t II Quoted by the commentator. 

14 q>m(fl fTOIJTt^T^r: Anjanamdana, quoted by the commentator. 
*., XIX. 53. . 

"Ibid., 50. 


ever, was attributed wrongly to sexual indulgence l (ratirdgasawbhavam}. The 
modern medical science has proved beyond doubt that the disease is the result 
of the activities of Tubercular Bacilli which attack a part of the body, deposit 
and multiply there and consume the area about them and cause the various symp- 
toms o sputum, fever and the like. Sexul indulgence is also recognized by 
the modern authorities but only as an auxiliary and not as a cause. Evidently 
the germ theory of Tuberculosis was not known to the physicians of the time of 
Kalidasa. Caraka himself is silent regarding the germ theory. Delirium or 
Sannipdta was the extreme effect of the disease when the affected brain aberrated. 
For its treatment very potent medicines were prescribed 2 . Poisons 3 and their 
antidotes 4 were known, Ka/pa^ was a technical term meaning the doctrine of 
poisons and their antidotes. A particular class of physicians treated ailments 
produced by poisons and they were known as Visavaidyas*. Even charms and 
chants were used to cure certain diseases. The effect of the poison occasioned by 
a snakebite was sought to be cured by a ceremony called Hdakumbhavidhand* * 
The manner in which the ceremony was performed may be described from other 
sources. An unbroken earthen jar was selected. Its neck was tied round \vith 
a thread spun by a maiden. A paste was made of several specified plants which 
was then to be mixed with the juice of the plant Kumari, and the inside of the jar 
served with it. The outside of the jar was to be fumigated with the paste as also 
with the plants madhuka, madhukapadma, kesara and sandal. The jar was then 
filled with water which had been brought in a copper jar by a person observing 
silence. While the water was being poured into the earthen jar certain mantras 
were to be chanted. When the jar was filled the performer was expected to touch 
it, and standing with his face to the north he was to charm the water with another 
mantra. Then a maiden who had just bathed, pounded and threw into the water 
certain other plants. The water thus prepared was sprinkled upon the part 
bitten by the snake the same mantras being repeated again. The poison of the 
deadliest snake; it was supposed, could thus be completely counteracted. The 
process is described m the Rhairavatantra at length. Like the \]dcikumbhavtdhana 
there was also a Ndgamudrmndhdna or a ceremony whereby a ring or something 
having the image of a snake upon it was charmed for curing snakebites. In 
this case too, however, what cures is water charmed for curing snakebites, with 
chants and sprinkled upon the person bitten. The l&Msaratndvall gives a full ac- 
count of it. The use of profuse water in curing the snakebite was called Sttakriyd*. 
Kalidasa, evidently drawing from some medical authority suggests amputation, 
burning or pressing out the blood from the wound caused by the bite as a pos- 

nrsft Ibid., 48. 

2 KM., 11.48. 

8 Mat., pp. 67, 69; Ragfa., XI. I 61. 

4 *Tt>Tfa &**., XII. 61. 

6 Mai., p. 69; (Hfrlfaqfrr: Ibid. 

6 frty^MI ^T *fsrf% Ibid. 

7 Ibid. 

' 8 tftafw SRI^TT Mat., p. 70. 


sible cure 1 . Thus surgical operation is also recorded. The movements of a 
snake were further sought to be restricted within a circle by the force of a mantra 2 . 
A fatal poison and a highly efficacious medicine are warranted respectively by the 
phrase visaballfi (a particular creeper) and mahausadhi*. The use of a certain kind 
of sugar called matsyandika* has been recorded as an antidote against intoxication 
by liquor which is borne out by several medical authorities 6 . The Parivrajika 
of the Mdlavikdgnimitra is an adept in medicine 7 . 

Kalidasa alludes to KuMdrabhrtya*, a name given by Susruta to one of the eight 
branches (astdngahrdayd) of medical science which deals with the proper develop- 
ment of the foetus, taking care of the mother during the days of her pregnancy and 
of the babe when born. Extensive references are on record to the state of preg- 
nancy 9 (dauhrdd) and its symptoms (laksana). The following symptoms 10 have 
been noted : the thinness of the body 11 , paleness of the face 12 , geophagy or the desire 
to eat earth 13 , and the enlargement of the breasts and the growing darkness of the 
nipples 14 . The room marked out for the birth of the child is also mentioned. 
It was known as the sutikagrha 15 . We have references also to a nurse 16 (dhdtri) 
suckling the babe 17 . Other references to diseases and their treatment are directly 
and indirectly alluded to in the ^aghuvamsci, VIII. 94, XII. 97, XIX. 49, etc. While 
commenting on a verse in the Meghadiita Mallinatha depicts a dhvani and quotes 
Vagbhata 18 . (We have also allied references in the Sa. 9 II. 40, EMghu^ ix. 59, ii. 
32, iv. 75, viii. 54, ix, 70, xii. 61, xiv. 80 and Ku. y vi. 45. In the Mdlarikdgni- 
mitra IV. 4 and further in ibid., Dhruvasiddhih, etc. there is a reference to Sus- 
ruta 19 ). 

1 Ibid., IV. 4. Similar remedies are given in Vagbhata^ VI. 
2 R^.,II. 32; KM., II. 21. 
R*/w.,XII. 61. 
* Ibid. 

5 Utf<H$l?r . .^FRTT MaL 9 p. 42, cf. Vagbhata, I. 5, 49, Ajirndmrtamanjati^ 42 by 

KaSnaja, and the \ogacara. Madaytqyatikttsa on the point. 

6 Ibid. 

7 Mai., p. 67; IV. 4. 

in. 12. cf. 

| Susruta quoted by the commentator 
Haravalt quoted by a commentator. 
*Ragt.,m. 1,6, XIV. 26. 

10 Ibid., III. i. 

11 Ibid., III. 2, 7, X. 69. 

12 Ibid., III. 2, X. 59, XIV. 26. Cf. Vagbhata quoted by a commentator. 

18 *TrTfa R*gt*- 9 HI. 2. 

14 Ibid., Cf. Vaghabhata quoted by the commentator. 
IH. I5.X.68. 

"Ibid., III. 26, X, 78, XIII. 62, 
17 ^i*n*<MMP4H. Ibid., X. 78. 


w Cf, Cikitsakxlpa, Adhjaya, V (p. 2^. 2, 3. 


Other Sources and Literature 

Kalidasa refers to other external literature and has drawn upon other sources 
which may now be discussed below. Although the citations are obscure some- 
times, nevertheless, it is not very, difficult to bring out a possible parallelism be- 
tween the ideas of the poet and their probable sources. The poet could not help 
referring to the existing literature from which he borrowed themes for many of 
his immortal works. The subject matter of the Abhijndna Sqkuntala was drawn 
from the Mahdbhdrata, of the Vikramorvasi from the JLgpeda 1 and the Satapatha 
Brabwapa 2 , of the Mdlavikagninritra from the Puranas, of the }Laghuvamsa from the 
Ttiimdyam and the Visnu Purana and of the l&imdrasambhava from the Puranas. 
We have already seen that he refers directly to the Vedas, Puranas and the Iti- 
hasas 3 and Nibandhas 4 . Other sources of his knowledge were the Manuswrti, 
Kdwastltras, some edition of the Stikrantti, for he directly refers to the study of 
tl e polity of USanas 5 , the Arthasdstra^ treatises on music, astronomy and medicine 
to which we have already made a reference and to various other works. We find 
further references to the 'Kgveda in ti&lLaghuvamsa^ 1,61, xv. 76 and the Kumdra- 
wmbhava^ ii. 12. A reference to the Yajurveda\s implied in the Avamedha sacri- 
fice of the Mdlavikagnimitra and the Atharvaveda has found mention in the ILaghu- 
vamta. i 59 and xvn 13. In like manner there is a deep imprint of theUpanisa- 
dic thought left on his writings. His prayers to gods breathe an air of the philo- 
sophy propounded in the Upanisads and the Rhagavadgitd. But this point we 
shall deal later in its proper place. 


Kalidasa' s ideas about the divine right of kingship are quite akin to those 
of Manu. In the performance of personal purity and social rites also the poet 
" mostly follows Manu. This idea is much strengthened by the fact that Manu has 
been very frequently 6 named by him. Besides Manu, several smrtikaras or sub- 
jects of their works have been indirectly alluded to. Smrtis following the sense of 
the Sruti 7 is a patent expression of Kalidasa. The devolution of property in the 
Sdkuntala* and the partition of Rama's empire in the }{agbuvamtd* impliedly refer 
to the Smrti laws. Conduct of the newly married couple in the Kumdrasambhavd^ 
and the marriage ceremonies of Aja and Indumati in the TLaghuvamfa 1 ' 1 evidently 
follow the details of the Grhyasutras. 

X X. 95. 
2 V. 1-2. 

3 ak. 9 p. 91. 

4 Ibid., p. 91. 

5 #//., III. 6. 

*Ragfnf. 9 1. ii, 17, II. 33, IV. 7, ICX. 3, XIV. 67. Indirect references to Manu are too 
many to be quoted here. They have already been enumerated in the foregoing chapters. 
7 Ra&te. 9 II. 2. 

w VII. 84. 
11 VII. 



The poet has evidently made use of the Kdmasiitras of Vatsyayana or other 
authors not extant now, for his descriptions in his dramas, in the last canto of the 
RaghuvamSa or in cantos vii and viii of the Yamdr^sambhava. Although it may not 
be strictly possible to equate passages of the poet with those occurring in Vatsya- 
yana, it, nevertheless, appears on the whole that he does refer to the Kdmasutras 
such as Ghotakam^kha, Gonardiya, Ganikaputra, Vatsyayana and others. T.he 
following are the general references to the YJimasutras\ the Kumdrasambhava canto 
viii, verses 8-10, 14-19, 22, 23, 25, 83, 87, 88; the ^aghuvamsa, vi. 17, xi. 52, xix, 
16-21, 22-35, 38-46 and others as also several references in the Mdlavikdgnimitra^ 
Vikramorrasi and Sakuntala. The entire talk of Anusuya and Priyamvada. the 
friends of the heroine of the Sakuntala with Dusyanta, the hero, bears a deep 
stamp of the Kanyasamprayuktaka adhikarana of the Kdmasutra, and so the 
blessings of Kanva to Sakuntala been greatly influenced by the Bharyyadhikarana 
of the same work 1 . In the MeghadutaJ\\> 4, the poet uses the technical term 
pranayakalaha* from Vatsyayana's tenth adhyaya, second adhikarana 3 . At the 
close of the third Act of the Mdlavikdgnimltra king Agmmitra falls at the feet of 
Mvatl; so docs the king Dusyanta in the seventh Act of the Sakuntala. This act 
of the two kings corresponds to a particular Sutra of Vdtsyayana*. In the 23rd 
and 33rd verses of the nineteenth canto of the Raghwawsa dntt affairs arc des- 
cribed; these affairs come under the fifth chapter of Vatsyayana where dutikarma 
is explained in detail. 


Mallinatha has in his commentaries freely quoted from the Arthafdstra of 
Kautilya to explain political terms used by Kalidasa in the ULcigjmvamsa and the^ 
Yjifudrasambhava. Of these quotation, given below 5 along with their parallels in* 
the commentaries, the first is intended to explain the pharse wargdbhisyandavamana, 
which occurs both in the ILagfiuvamsa and the T&umdrasawbhava\ the second to ex- 
pound the words niyoga and vikalpa\ the third prakrtivairdgya\ the fourth sakyesu- 
ydtrd\ the fifth pardbhisandhdna\ the sixth dandopanatacaritam\ and the seventh to 
point out the three branches of knowledge, tisro vidydh. Again in defence of 
hunting as a good sport of kings Kalidasa uses in the Abhijndna Sakuntala almost 
the same words as are used by Kautilya in his ArthaJdstra* for the same purpose. 

It follows therefore that Kalidasa was indebted to Kautilya's ArthaSdstra for 
the technical terms of polity and that Mallinatha could find their explanation in 

1 Kama., IV. i, 39-40 

nMHrti (Some editions omit it). 

I ^T HfoH^fa 

I cPf ^ RT I 5 STTWSf?: II 

4 ^ ^*kf^M<M WMI fWdf^^ ^T U^^^HIW^^^M^H ^TWTK^^f quoted by a 

5 Text quoted ante at several places. 
Cf. SaJk., IL 5; Artbafostra, VIII. 3. 


no other political work than that of Kautilya 1 ., The great detail given of the ad- 
ministration of Atithi in the iyth canto of the JLaghwamSa presupposes a thor- 
ough knowledge of the ArthaSastras and the Nitisastras on the part of the poet. 
Mallinatha, however, quotes Kamandaka's Nitisdrd* also in order to explain the 
political terms used by the poet. 

Other Works Cited 

. In the J^agJMvamsa^ canto vi, verse 27, Klidasa refers to Gajastltrakaras. By 
Gaja3utrakara&}\t means the trcatrses of Gautama, Rajaputra, Mrga&irman, Pala- 
kapya and others. ID the footnote 3 below are given the poet's reference to the 
Gajasutras of Palakapya. The commentators have also supported these verses 
with quotations from Gautama, Rajaputra, Mrgacarman or Mrgasarman and Pala- 
kapya. The Ndtyasdstra of Bharata was a work mastered by the poet as is evi- 
denced by the various dramatic terms used by him in the ist^nd 2nd acts of the 
Malamkagnimitra. The Vikraniorvati^ Act III, preserves a reference to the course 
of Bharat?muni to Urvasi in consequence of her fault in a play entitled the L,ak- 
smlsvayamrara composed by the author of the Ndtyasastra 9nd staged in the pre- 
sence of Indra under the instructions of Bharata himself. Most of the mytho- 
logy referred to by the poet came from the Puranas. The prayers to various 
gods, Brahma 4 , Visnu 5 , and Siva have been drawn from the Puranas and other 
works the chief of which were the Upamsacls, and the six systems of philosophy 
a detailed reference to which will be given in the chapter on Philosophy. The 
details of the coronation rites of the JLtighuramsa, lyth canto, embody the princi- 
ples of the Aitareya ftrdhmana. Works on polity have been categorically refer- 
red to in the phrase tantra*. He also draw's from extant works on music 7 . Then 
there were extant dramatic and poetical compositions of Bhasa 8 , Saumiliaka 9 
and Kaviputra 10 . Of these Bhasa's works arc still available. 

1 Preface to the Translation of the Arthasastra by R. Sham Sasfry. 

2 On Raghu.y XVII. 51; q^tj 66 spft^R" and on otheis. 

3 HcH^M^H^M ctc - Rrfg/w., 1- 42 ^RH^UrAKrTH. 7 1 ST^N' cT^rTT IV. 23, ^^\ t 

39 T^" . .%^BT. VL 7> MtaT 27 $?jfe<Tr . . .RT XVI. 3 ^ft. . <*fcm XVII. 70. 
4 K#.,II. 4-25. 
5 R^//.,X. 7-33. 

6 Af<7/.,p. ii. 

7 Ibid., Acts I and II. 
Ibid., p. 2. 

9 Ibid. 

10 Ibid. 




The Outlook 

The works of Kalidasa reveal a store of data on which a detailed account of 
the spiritual activities of the people can be built up. Had the poet not furnished 
us with endless allusions to the spiritual outlook and the religious character of 
the people, it would have been a common-place error to believe that the people 
during the epoch when the poet lived and wrote had fallen to a state of utter 
materialism. But it is here, that the superiority of the Indian life asserts itself. 
Other branches of the Aryan family, for example the Greeks and Romans, suc- 
cumbed ultimately to cultural death in spite of their 'Stoics' and 'Philosophers', 
whereas the Hindu Aryans despite their wealth and wine, art and luxury, have 
lived with their store of spiritual knowledge to this day. Most of their beliefs 
and superstitions, philosophy and rational speculations have survived along 
with their religious and social institutions. Below we shall attempt to give an 
account of the religious activities of the people as disclosed in the writings 
of Kalidasa. 


The people were god-fearing and righteous. Temples of the Brahmanical 
gods and goddesses abounded in the land and the drift from the Vedic to the 
Puranic worship had been completed . Now this trait on the whole is of the poet's 
own times; and in view of the frequent references to the Hindu pantheon and the 
innumerable images, as also to the Puranic outlook' on the religious life, we 
may safely conclude that although Kalidasa is describing ancient times, he in 
most incidents is giving an account of contemporary India. Everywhere in 
the writings of the poet one gets the impression of the prevalence of the Puranic 
faith, although the culture of the Upanisadic thought and of the systems of phi- 
losophy does not seem to have been in any way the less known. The Puranic 
pantheon had been almost completed wherein the Vedic gods had been reborn. 
The earlier gods had assumed new names and associations. Their nomencla- 
ture had grown to enormous dimensions. Their preponderant number had 
already suggested to the Puranas and to Kalidasa through them the idea of an 
'army of gods* ('devasend) 1 . 

'.,VII. i; K*.,II. 52. 



Vedic and Puranic 

The following (Vedic) gods (devas^ divaukasah} 2 with their various 
names have been referred to by the poet: Indra 3 ,' f Agni 4 , Varuna 6 Surya 6 , 
Yama 7 , Tvastra 8 , Dyava Prthivi 9 , the Rudras 10 and Visnu 11 . Of these, as we 
shall see below, all, except Agni and Dyava Prthivi, have been described with 
the later Puranic imprint on them. They are no more the anthropomorphic 
features of nature and have already become personal gods to their respective de- 
votees. Of these Visnu is no more a phase of Surya but his all-powerful Puranic 
successor who incarnates himself among such leaders and heroes of men as Rama, 
Krsna, and Buddha. Of the new advents to the older pantheon the following 
have been named: Brahma 12 , Visnu 13 , Siva 14 ,and their composite form of Trimurti 15 , 
Kubera 16 , Skanda 17 , Sesa 18 , Jayanta 19 , Langali 20 , Madana 21 and the Lokapalas 22 . 


Of the Vedic goddesses only Sac! 23 , the consort of Indra, Sarasvatl 24 (or 
Bharati 25 ) and Prthivi (jointly with Dyava 26 ) are mentioned. But these also have 
been amply coloured by Puranic notions, and when looked at through their Vedic 
traits, they can hardly be recognized. Sarasvati and Bharati, unlike their Vedic 
prototypes 27 , are not two distinct goddesses; the latter instead has been made 

1 to., VII. 35. 

2 Ibid. ,11. i. VII. 92. 

3 Ragbu. 9 ll. 50, 42, 74, III. 23,38,39, 42, 43, 44, 46, 49, 53, 62, 64, IV. 3, 28, IX. 24, XVII. 81. 
to., II. i, 23, etc. 

* Ragbu. 9 X. 50, 51, I. 6, V. 25; SaJk. 9 VI. 30. 

5 Ragbn. 9 IX. 6, 24, XVII. 81; to., II. 23. 

6 Vtk. 9 pp. u, 26, 86; to., VIII. 41, 42, 43, 44; R///., I. 16; $ak. 9 p. 18, VI. 30. 

7 Ragbu., II. 62, IX. 6, 24, XVII. 81; to., II. 23. 

8 to., VII. 41; Ragbx., VI. 32. 
9 R^//.,X. 54. 

1( >to.,II. 26;R^.,II. 54. 

11 Mai., V. 2; Ragbu., III. 27, 49, IV. 27, VI. 49, VII. 13, 35, X. 9, 18, 6-35, XL 86; XXVIII. 
8; to., III. 13; M. P., 1 5, 46; ML/., 47- 

R^4w.,V. 36, to., 1.1,11.3,4-1 5. 

13 Vide above. 

" Raghu. y I. i, II. 35, 36, *8, 44, IH. 49, XI. 13, XVIII. 24; to., I. 57, H- 57, 60, III. 17, 
65-70, V. 77-81, VI. 16-24, 2 6, 75-77; J^., I. i; 1/7^., I. i; Af/., I. i, etc. 

15 to., II. 4. 

16 R^., V. 26, 28, IX. 24, 25, XIV. 20, XVI. io,XVII.8i; to., II. 22,23, III. 25; M.P., 7. 

17 Ragbu., II. 36, 37; to., II. 52; M.P ., 43, 45- 
18 R^^.,X. 13,7. 

19 Ibid., III. 23, VI. 78. 

20 Af. P., 49. 

21 A r #., III. 22, y. 64, III. 10, 21, 23, VII. 92, etc. 
**Ragft. 9 U. 75; to., VII. 45. 

R^ta., III. 13,23. 

24 Ibid., IV. 6; VI. 29; Ku. 9 VII. 90. 

Raghu. y X. 36. 

a* Ibid., X. 54. 

27 C/., R^tf, I. 3, 10, ii, 12; I. 22, 10. 


identical with the former and both denote the goddess of learning 1 . The Puranic 
goddesses preponderate during this age and have been named as 4 follows: Laksmi 2 
Parvati 3 and the Seven Mothers (Matarah 4 ). 

Semi-Gods and Goddesses 

A number of semi-gods like the Gandharvas 5 , Yaksas 6 , Kjnnaras 7 ,Kimpu- 
rusas 8 or Asvamukhyas 9 , Punyajanas 10 , Vidyadharas 11 and Siddhas 12 have either 
made their appearances anew or have been reborn from their Vedic predecessors. 
The feminine counterparts of the Siddhas 13 are on record. Of these these of the 
Gandharvas have been named as the Apsarasah 14 or Suranganas 15 . 

Deification of Animals and Rivers, etc, 

Kalidasa has referred to that phase of the popular religion also in which the 
deification of animals and inanimate objects becomes a marked feature. Thus 
Vrsa 16 (the bull or Nandi) the vehicle of Siv0, Garuda 17 (the eagle), the vehicle of 
Visnu, Sesa 18 (the thousand-headed serpent) the couch of Visnu, and Sirhha 19 (the 
lion), the vehicle of Parvati, the consort of Siva, are all deified objects. The cow 10 
likewise has been sanctified and is endowed with divine qualities. She 21 and the 
lion 22 speak the human language at will. N^ndi keeps guard over the entrance 
to Siva's abode 23 . Airavata 24 , the vehicle of India, is also mentioned. Rivers 
also have been deified and Ganga and Yamuna become the bearers 25 of the fly- 
whisks of important gods. The S-arasvati 26 of the Brahmavatta is also simi- 

1 Cf. Ragfw., IV. 6; Ku. y VII. 90. 

2 M. P., 32; Ragbx., IV. 5, X. 8, etc. 

3 Kx. 9 V. 6-29, VI. 80, 81, VIII. 18, 78, R*g&//, I. i, M. P., 36, 44, etc. 
to.,VII.38, 39- 

6 Ragbu., V. 53; Ku. 9 VII. 48, etc. 

6 Ku., VI, 39; M. P., i and later etc. 

7 Ragbu., VIII. 64; JC//., I. 8, n, 14, VI. 39; Af. P., 56. 
&*.,!. 14. 

9 Quoted ante . 

10 Ragbtt., IX. 6. 

11 Ragfat. 9 II. 60; Kv., I. 4. 
Jfc. f I. 5; Af. P., 45* 

13 M. P., 45. 

14 Vtk. 9 1, II. Ill; Ragb*., VII. 53, etc. 

15 Ragbx., VI. 27, etc. 

16 Rag/to., II. 35, 36; Kx. 9 III. 41, VII. 37, 49> etc. 

1V Raghu., II. 35, before and after. 
20 Ibid., I. 75-81,11. 
81 Ibid., II. 61. 

28 34-40, 47-51, 52. 

14 R^gfar., III. 55. 


larly deified. The three together make up the sacred confluence called Trivejfu 1 . 

The enemies of gods are no less prolific in number, and just as the number of 
the Puranic gods has multiplied so has also grown that of the demons (daityas 2 , 
suradvisasf, for without the creation of important terrifying traits of the latter, the 
greatness of the former could have hardly been possible to extol. Havana 4 , 
Kaliya 5 , an$ Lavana 6 have there fore been alluded to. Rahu 7 and Ketu 8 , represen- 
ted by two evil planets, have also been classed among the demons after the manner 
of the Puranas. Siva has his following made up of the Ganas 9 who belong to the 
class of spirits. So also arc the yogirls 10 piaking up the following of Parvati, 
the consort of Siva. An apparition has been metioned in the Sdkuntala 11 pos- 
sessing the Vidusaka while he himself remaining invisible. 

A class of gods the spirits of the forest, Vanadevata 12 , evidently benign, have 
been alluded to. Pitrs 13 or the manes, the deceased ancestors, also figure among the 
gods and so do the Seven Sages, the Saptarsis 14 or Brahmarsis 15 . Ancient histo- 
ric? 1 and mythological personages and heroes like Parasurama 16 , Katttaviryar- 
juna, 17 Sagara 18 , Yayati, 19 Dillpa 20 , Raghu 21 , Aja and such others figure as 
endowed with almost divine powers. 

Some of the important gods, goddesses, both Vedic and Puranic, and other 
superhuman characters may be treated with a special reference below. 


Indra had been the most powerful god 22 in the pantheon of the Rgveda but 
later on he was superseded by younger gods of the Puranic pantheon of whom 
Visnu and Siva became the ruling deities. Kalidasa refers to Indra usually with 

*., XIII. 54-58. 

2 Ibid., X. 1 2 etc. 

3 Ibid., 15 etc. 

4 Ibid, XII. 5 1 , 5 5 , etc ; M. P., 5 8, etc. 
6 Rrf^w., VI. 49. 

6 Ibid., XV. 17. 

7 Ibid., II. 39. 

8 Ibid. 

Ku., VII. 36, 40, etc. 
l>H. 9 XI. 5. 

. 9 p. 223; cf. ~Raghu. 9 XL 16. 

L 39, VII. 38,40. 
u.y I. 66, 67, 69, 71, V. 8, etc. 
14 Ku., I. 16, VI. 3, 6, 7, 3-12; Raglw., X. 63, etc. 
15 R^//.,X. 63. 

16 Ibid., XL 68, 6i-68;Af. P., 5*. 
MRagbu., VI. 38. 

18 SaJk., III. 

19 Ma/., p. 102. 
a R^/A, I. II. III. 

21 Ibid., Ill, IV. 

22 250 hymns have been addressed to him cf. Vedic Mythology, p. 59. 


regard to ancient narratives 1 . It would appear that during his time this god had 
ceased to be worshipped except on the occasion of the first appearance of the 
rainbow 2 and on that of a sacrifice 3 . According to the Puranic mythology an 
earthly king performing a hundred sacrifices attained to the office of Indra but the 
latter would not permit him to complete the number hundred and would thus save 
his exclusive designation of the Satakratu which idea the poet reiterates through his 
use of the phrase 4 . This is why we find Indra stealing away the horse 6 consecrated 
for the Rajasuya by a king who has already performed ninety-nine sacrifices. Yet 
a number of names has been given to the god evidently in pursuance of the Pura- 
nic mytholoy, viz., Vajri, Puruhuta 6 , Satakratu 7 , Vrtrasatru, Vajrapam 8 , 
Purandara 9 , Surendra 10 , Sakra 11 , Parvatapaksasatana 12 , Hari 13 , Maghava 14 , gotra- 
bhid 15 , Vasava 16 , Vidauja 17 , SureSvara 18 , Pracmabarhi 19 , Turasaha 20 ; Sahasra- 
netra 21 . In the Gupta epigraphs the exploits of a king have been equalled to 
those of Indra 22 . His son Jayanta 23 was considered an ideal prince. Agni, 
another important deity of the Rgm/rf 24 , is thrown in the background and is allu- 
ded to only in connection with sacrifices 25 , marriage 26 , etc. 


It was expected of a kmg to receive ascetics, physicians and such other 
personages in a room (agnydgdrd) where fire was kept ever kindled 27 . He has 
been called Havirbhuj^ for he receives the oblations. 

1 Ragb*., Ill; Ku. y VII. 45; ^-, VI. 

2 &#/;#., IV. 3. 

8 Ibid., III. 38, 44, VI. 13. 
4 Ibid., III. 38,49. 

6 Ibid., 39, 50. 
Ibid., IV. 3. 

7 Ibid., III. 38. 

8 Ibid., II. 42. 

9 Ibid., III. 23, 51. 

10 Ibid., n. 

11 Ibid., 39. 

12 Ibid., 42. 

13 Ibid., 43. 

14 Ibid., 46. 

15 Ibid., 53. 

16 Ibid., 5 S. 

17 Ibid., 59. 

18 Ibid., 64. 

19 Ibid., IV. 28. 

20 Ku. 9 II. i. 

21 R*#&//., VI. 23. 

22 All P. Ins. of Samudra Gupta, 1. 26; Mathura Stone Ins. of Chandra Gupta II. 
28 R^*., III. 23, VI. 78. 

24 200 hymns are addressed to him; cf. Vedlc Mythology, p. 88. 

25 R^,, X. 50, 79, etc, 

26 Ibid., VII. 20, 24; Ku. 9 VII. 79, 8 1. 



Varuna of the Rgvedic pantheon becomes a water god (Jalesvara) 1 , but his 
character as the chastizer of the wicked he retains, although even in the }^g>eda 
he is often called a regulator of the waters 2 , is connected with oceanic 3 and other 
waters 4 . He is one of the eight regents of regions and it is in his capacity 
that the king of Kalidasa brings the renegade to book (niyamqyasi kumdrgaprai- 
thiJdi*> pathascyutah*}. In the Kusana and Gupta sculptures Varuna is repre- 
sented as riding a crocodile and bearing a noose, pasa, of chastisement. He 
is a familiar god in the Gupta epigraphical records 7 . 


Yam9, also called Danda 8 , Vaivasvata 9 and Antaka, has been metioned fifty 
times in the R^jmfo 10 and three whole hymns are dedicated to him in the ist and 
loth mandalas. He 'gives bliss to the good and woe to the bad 11 ' in the Rgpeda. 
This character he retains till the time of Kalidasa, and as the chastizer of the 
wicked he is given a weapon like the thorny silk-cotton tree called the KutasdlmalL 
The poet refers to this weapon 12 . Yama in his epithet Antaka, the destroyer, has 
been referred to in Gupta inscriptions 13 . 


Tvastra, the Vulcan of the Hindu pantheon, is the architect of the gods. 
He has been mentioned sixty-five times in the Rgveda 1 *. He is the precursor 
of the later Visvakarma and is referred to by the poet in an ancient context 
where the story of Mdrkandeya Purdna is hinted at. Tvastra' s daughter Sanjfia was 
married to the sun and it is said that the god placed the sun on his turning 
lathe and trimmed off a portion of the bright disc since his daughter was unable 
to endure the excessive splendour of the luminary. Tvastra used the part of the 
sun, so trimmed, in fashioning the discus of Visnu, trident of Siva, the rod of 
Yama, and other weapons of gods with which they destroyed the de- 

1 Ibid., IX. 24, XVII. 81. 

211. 28,4, V. 85,6. 

3 1. 161, 14, VIII. 58, 12; VII. 87,6. 

VII. 49> 3, IX. 90, 2. 

5 .fofc.,V. 8. 

6 Ragbu., Text quoted elsewhere. 

7 All P. Ins. of Samudra Gupta, i. 26; Mathura Stone Ins. of Candra Gupta II. etc. 
8 K//.,IL 23. 

9 Ragbu., XII. 95. 
10 Vedic Mythology, p. 171. 
11 V. 42, 6. 
12 Ragbu., XII. 95. 

13 V A11 P. Ins. of Samudra Gupta, i. 26; Eranst. Inst. of Ibid., i. 9; Mathura Stone Ins. of 
Candra Gupta II, etc. 

14 Vedic Mythology, p. 119. 

15 106-108. 



Rudra, to whom three entire hymns are addressed in the Rgveda 1 , is 
identified with Siva by Kalidasa 2 . But it is to be noted that Tryabamka, a "common 
epithet of Siva in post-Vedic literature which has been used as a designation 
of Siva by the poet 3 also, is already applied to Rudra in Vedic texts 4 . 


Surya also belonged to the Rgvedfc pantheon 5 ; and his other aspect, that con- 
tained in Savita, has been referred to by Kalidasa in his word Savita 6 . He has 
been given other names like Ravi 7 , Bh5nu 8 , Hari 9 , Saptasaptih 10 and Handas- 
vadidhiti 11 . His horses have already found a mention in the Rffwda 12 , It may 
be noted here that the worship of Surya had been a feature of the Rgvedic times 
but the sun-cult as such, was introduced in India later as a foreign form of wor- 
ship. The tradition preserved in the fthavisya Pitrana that the first sun temple 
was built in Sindhu on the Candrabhaga by Samba, the son of Krsna by Jambha- 
vati, who brought the Sakadvipl, Brahmanas (the Maga priests) to serve as priests 
to the deity, also corroborates this view. It may be remarked that according to 
Varahamihira the Magas should be appointed priests of the sun temples 14 . It is 
interesting that the specimens of the Surya image of the Kusana period 15 evidence 
an absolutely foreign treatment of the god by giving him a dagger, a close- 
fitting waist-coat and a pair of long Central Asian boots, the last item of dress 
being specially marked on the Kusana royal 16 and military images. Kalidasa 
refers to a temple containing an image of the sun-deity and mentions people 
returning from the shrine at the feet of which, obviously the feet of the image, 
(padamftlcwF*} their attendance was required. We know that at one time the sun- 
cult had become considerably popular in northern India, particularly in Kashmir, 
and specially with the Hunas. Several temples of the sun were erected of which 

1 Vedic Mythology, p. 74. 
8 &gA*., II. 54; Jfo.,11, 26. 

3 Ibid. 

4 Vajasaneyi Satnhta^ III. 8; Satapatba fyabmana* II. 6, 2, 9. 

6 Ten entire hymns are addressed to him in the Rgwda; cf. Vcd, Mytho., p. 31. 

'/*., I. 16." 

*., VIII. 43,44;^-, V. 5. 

8 Sak V. 4. 

9 Ibid., p. 18. 
10 Ibid., VI. 30. 
31 R^., III. 22. 
12 VIII. 6 1, 16. 

18 Ch. 139. It may be remembered that a sun temple standing in Sultan on the bank of 
the Candrabhaga (Chenab) was actually seen by Huen Tsang. The same temple which was 
seen by Alb?runi about four centuries later was destroyed by Aurangzeb in the I7th century. 
Obviously it was not the temple built by Samba, but it may have been one of the leference of the 
a Purana which the Puranakara may be associating with the name of Samba. 

%rb0tM>hhita, 60, 19. 

15 Muttra Museum, Exhibit No. D. 46. 

16 Muttra Museum Exhibit Nos, 212 (Qt ana ) 21 3 (Kaniska), and 215 (Vema Kadphises). 

17 Vik.> V. 4. 


the Martanda temple of Kashmir, the remains of which may still be seen, was the 
most famous. TheKusanasandthe Sakas in general were great worshippers of 
the sun even though Saivism gained the upper hand with them also later on. 
Muttra seems to have been a prolific centre furnishing the devotees of Surya with 
the beautifully finished images of this deity and their several specimens dating 
from the Kusana period are preserved in the Muttra Museum! Kalidasa refers 
to the deity as having seven horses, all of the green colour 1 (baridasva) harnessed 
to* his chariot. Sevrn, sometimes four, horses draw the chariot of Surya in 
sculptural pieces. The images of the Muttia Museum have their chariots yoked 
to the horses, which manifest a highly animated attitude while flying fast 
with the chariot. The deity himself is represented as sitting in the 
squatting posture with a long knife or dagger in his right hand, and he puts 
on a close-fitting vest or bodice and a pair of long boots in the manner of those 
worn by the Kusanas pnd other Central Asian people, as pointed out above 
The composition gives easily the impression of an alien method of execution. An 
indigenous specimen may be witnessed among the sun-images in the collection 
of the Bharata Kala Bhavana, Benares, where the deity stands or sits on a chariot 
borne by seven horses and driven by his carioteer, the thighless Aruna. The 
deity beats the figures of lotus on the spread out palm of the hand or on the shoul- 
ders. Often he is accompanied with his two wives, Prabha and Chaya. During 
the mediaeval period the making of the Suiya images after the Indian manner 
became very prolific and we find an endless number of such images both of stone 
and metal (bronze and copper) finished during the Pala period. The sun temple 
of Konarak in the district of Pun is a marvel of the mediaeval age. The repairs 
of a sun temple almost contemporary with Kalidasa is the elaborate subject 
of an important inscription of the reign of Kumara Gupta 2 . 


Lokapalas were a class of eight gods including Indra, Kubcra and Varuna 
who were the guardians of directions and who were expected to enter the womb 
of a queen to impregnate her for the birth of a royal child. 3 It was supposed 
that the body of a king was formed by the lustre gained from the Lokapalas 4 . 

Brahma is one of the principal deities described in the writings of Kalidasa. 
He forms along with Visnu and Siva the well-known Hindu triad called TVv- 
murtL The poet endows him with most potent powers in the panegyrical prayer 
that is addressed to him. He is called sva}ambhfp> self-born, four-faced 6 , the lord 
of expression 7 (yagisa\ the creator (prabhavalf) of all the mobile and immobile 

. 22. 

2 Mandasor stone Inscription of Kumara Gupta and Bandhuvarma. 

3 R^/,//., II. 75. 

B *ttfa Ibid., 17, SfTcTR q4gf>H*f Ibid., 3. 
^ Ibid. 


universe 1 (cardcdram vtivam) because of his having thrown the seed on water 2 , 
and the cause of all the three conditions of creation (sarga\ maintenance {sthitf) 
and destruction 3 (pralaya). The three qualities of Sattva, Raja and Tama are 
said to reside in him, the only existent being (kevalatmane) before the creation 4 . 
He is called the parents, i. e. both the father and the mother, for he is said to 
have split his body up in a man and a woman for the purposes of creation 5 . 
He works during the day and sleeps during the night and thus the creation and 
dissolution are commensurate with his waking and sleep 6 . He is unborn (a/a 7 ). 
Himself unconditioned by and so immune from causality, he is the cause of all. 
Himself without a cause, he is the cause of the universe; himself without an 
end, he is the end of the world; himself without a beginning, he is the beginning 
of the world; and himself without a master, he is the lord of all 8 . He knows him- 
self through his own self, he creates himself, he is acted upon by himself and ul- 
timately he loses himself in his own self 9 . He becomes both fluid and solid, 
gross and subtle, light and heavy, and manifest and unmanifest at will 10 . He 
is the cause of that expression of which pranava is the beginning and of which 
sacrifices are the actions and heaven is the fruit 11 . He is known as the Purusa, 
transcendent and indifferent, who is conceived as a witness to his own Prakrti 
which is the cause of all attainments 12 . He is the father of the fathers (i. e. the 
manes, ancestors), god of the gods, beyond all, and the creator of creators 13 . He 
is both the offering and the offerer, the edible and the eater, knowledge and the 
knower, the contemplated and the contemplater 14 . In this manner Brahma 
has been given the epithets of Dhata 15 , Vidhata 16 , Vedha 17 , Caturmukha 18 , and the 
like. Thus here Brahma of the Upanisads has been treated by the poet as Brahma 
of the Puranas. We shall have an occasion to analyse this panegyric and locate 
its incidents to their proper sources. Kahdasa, following the Puranas, treats 
him as the husband of Sarasvati in the manner of the Hindu sculptors. Compo- 
site images of Brahma bearing a bearded sitting figure (with Sarasvati sitting in 
his lap in some) with four heads (sarvatomukha of Kalidasa 19 ) and four hands holding 
1 spr r srt focf ibid., 5. 

2 *lfrf <ft*f Ibid., 
8 Ibid., 6. 
4 Ibid., 4. 

1 Ibid., 7. 

Ibid., 8. 

7 R/7^.,V. 36;KA.,II. 5. 

8 Kx., II. 9. 

9 Ibid., 10. 
iIbid., ii. 
"Ibid., 12. 

12 Ibid,, 13. 

1 3 Ibid., 14. 

14 Ibid., 15. 
"Ibid., II. 3. 

* Ibid., VII. 43. 
17 R//#&#., I. 29. 
"&.,!!. 17. 
i Ibid, II. 3. 


the Veda, kamandai$t rudraksa and sruva may be witnessed in most of the Indian 
museums. It is grange that we find no reference in the works of the poet to a 
temple of Brahma; nor do we always come across such a temple in modern times. 
The only known temples of Brahma are perhaps the late mediaeval temple of Pus- 
kara and the comparatively recent insignificant one at Benares. It is difficult 
though to realize the purpose of the images of Brahma, which are numerous, if 
they were not installed in temples dedicated exclusively to that deity. Or it 
may be that some of the temples, as now, contained images of several deities to 
gcther, and the image of Brahma may have formed -an important item of such 
collection. Otherwise it will be difficult to reconcile the existence of a large 
number of such images and the endless references by Kalidasa to the deity with 
the absence of a temple dedicated exclusively to Brahma. 


Prajapati has been identified by Kahdasa with Brahma. This is not unwar- 
ranted in earlier literature. The Asvalayana GrhyasHtra^ makes the two gods iden- 
tical. This sutra seems to have been followed by the poet in this regard. Al- 
ready in the Brahmana literature Prajapati had become supreme and had received 
the attributes of Brahma. The SatapathcP and the TatttirJya* Rrdhmanas make him 
the father of all gods and the former refers to him as existing alone in the begin- 
ning 4 . Even earlier, in the Rgveda he is addressed a hymn 5 wherein he is called 
the lord of all that breathes and moves, the god above gods- whose ordinances 
are followed by all, who traverses the atmosphere, and who embraces with his 
arms the whole world. 



Visnu, a sun deity of the Rgveda, is reborn in the Puxanic pantheon and has 
acquired new glory and boundless power. New epithets are given to him, as 
for example, Hari 6 , Purusottama 7 , Trivikrama 8 , Pundarikaksa 9 , Purana 10 , Kavi 13 , 
Caturmurti 12 , Purusa 13 , Paramesthin 14 , Sartigi 15 , Mahavaraha 16 , Acyuta 17 , BaJa- 

1 III. 4 . 

2 XI. i, 16, 14. 

3 VIII. i, 3,4. 
' B.,I1. 4, i. 

5 X. 121. 

6 1L^//., III. 49. 

7 Ibid. 
Mbid., VII. 35. 

9 Ibid., XVIII. 8, X. 9. 

10 Ibid., X. 10,36. 

11 Ibid., 36. 

12 Ibid., 22. 

13 Ibid. ,6, XL 85. 

14 Ibid., X. 33, XI. 86. 

35 Ibid., XII. 70; M. P., 46, U. 9 47. 
> c R,/g^.,VII, 56. 
17 Ibid., IV. 27. 



nisudana 1 , Cakradhara 2 , Bhagavan 3 , Krsjna 4 . Visnu in the 'Kgbtda is a sun deity, 
who, like the sun, takes three strides (inkrama) across the terrestrial spaces 5 . There 
his weapon as the precursor of the later cakra is a rollirg wheel represented like 
the sun 6 . Even his vehicle bearing the name Garutmad and Suparna is mentioned. 
The later Puranic conception of Visnu' s recovering the earth through his measur- 
ing out the three regions by three strides during his Vamaria incarnation is thus 
already foreshadowed in the Rgvedic allusion given above. The inferior posi- 
tion of Visnu as a sun deity in the \gveda is changed to cne of supreme importance 
in the Biahmanas wh^re he already assumes the form of a dwarf -and rescues the 
Earth from the Asuras in three strides 7 . Visnu of Kalidasa, who obviously follows 
the Puranas, is one of the most important goeis of the later Hindu pantheon and 
to-day, beside Siva, he is the supreme deity who is worshipped by the Hindus 
through one or other of his incarnations. By analysing the panegyrical prayer 
addressed to Visnu as given by Kahdasa, we gel his following form, attributes and 
functions: Visnu is reclining on the Couch formed by the thousand-hooded 
serpent 8 , his feet resting on the lap of Laksml ^sitting on a lotus 9 , her zone 
covered by the silk-woven garment 10 . He wears on his chest the gem named 
Kaustubha 11 and is waited upon by the humble Garuda 12 . He is beyond the scope 
of word and mind 13 . He remains in threefold forms being the creator of the 
universe in the beginning, afterwards the upholder of it and last of all its 
destroyer 14 . As rain water, originally of one taste, obtains a diversity of 
flavours in different lands, so does he, the immutable assume different conditions 
when connected with different qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas 15 . Immeasur- 
able himself, he has measured out all the worlds; indifferent to all the desires him- 
self, he grants the desires of all; himself unconquered, he has conquered all; him- 
self imperceptible, he is the cause of all the perceptible world 16 . Sages declare him 
to be present in the heart and yet not near, free from desires yet performing pe- 
nance, compassionate yet not affected by grief, old and yet not subject to decay 17 . 
Though omniscient, he is himself unknown; though the source of all, he is self- 
existent; though himself the lord of all, he has no superior; and though he is 

1 Ibid., IX. 3. 
8 Ibid., XVI. 55- 
8 Ibid., X. 35. 
* Ibid., VI. 49- 
5 VII. 99, 2. 


7 J. R. A.S., 27, 188-89. 

8 Rrfg^//., X. 7. The word faff^ (idol) has been used here. 

Ibid., 8. 

10 Ibid. 

11 Ibid., VI. 49, X. 10. 

12 Ibid., X. 13. 
18 Ibid., 15. 

14 Ibid., 1 6. 

15 Ibid., 17. 
"Ibid., 18. 
"Ibid., 19. 


single, immutable, one, he assumes all forms 1 ; the sole refuge of the seven worlds, 
resting on the waters of the seven oceans, he has been sung in the seven sdwans, 
and he has the seven fires for his mouth 2 . From his four mouths have sprung 
the knowledge result in gin the group of the four ends of life, the arrangement of 
time into the four cycles, and the people consisting of the four castes 3 . With 
minds checked by practice from the external objects, the Yogins seek him for eman- 
cipation, and he full of light abides in their hearts 4 . Unborn, he takes birth; 
actionless, he destroys enemies; and sleeping he keeps vigilant 5 , Able to enjoy 
the objects of sense, such as sound and other s-,hc practises austere asceticism; able 
to protect the people, he yet lives in utter indifference 6 . The ways which lead 
to supreme felicity though many and elifferently laid down in the scriptures, it is in 
him that they all meet 7 . To persons whose desires for worldly enjoyments are 
completely gone, and who have devoted their hearts and consigned their actions 
to him, he is the refuge for obtaining absolution 8 . His greatness, which consists 
in earth and other elements, though perceptible by senses is yet undefinablc; he 
is inferable by inference and the Vedas 9 . Since he purifies a person simply when 
he remembers him, the remaining functions of sense with reference to him, 
by this act, do declare their effects (i.e. become at once known 10 ). His inscru- 
table nature transcends all praise 11 . Nothing is unattainable by him. As an act 
of favour to the people he condescends to take birth anel act Jike human beings 12 . 
He is the primeval bare! 13 , (puranasya karefi). The first and mieielle qualities 
(i. e. Sattva and Rf//as) of embodied beings arc overpowered by the third quality 
Tamas 14 . Lotcr he is described as being dreamt by the wives of Dasaratha. They 
were guarded by dwarfs bearing conches, swords, maces, sarnga bows and quoits 
(caknfi*). They were being borne in the sky by Garuda who displayed the mass 
of splendour of his golden wings and who on account of his great speed elragged 
the clouds in his train 16 . Visnu is further described as waiteel upon by Laksmi 
with a ?n of lotus in her hand, ^bearing the Kaustubha gem suspended between 
her breasts 17 . He is worshipped by the seven sages, who had performed the ablu- 
tions in the celestial triple streamed Ganges anel who recite the hymns of the 

1 Ibid., 20. 

2 Ibid., 21. 

3 Ibid. ,22. 

4 Ibid., 23. 

5 Ibid., 24. 

6 Ibid., 25. 

7 Ibid., 26. 

8 Ibid., 27. 
Ibid., 28. 

^Ibid., 29. ' 

11 Ibid., *o. 

12 Ibid., 31. 
"IbJcL, 36. 

14 Ibid., 38. 

15 Ibid. ,60. 

16 Ibid., 61. 

17 Ibid., 62. 


Vedas 3 . He is endowed with four hands 2 . The mount Himalaya has been called 
Visnu 3 in one immovable form. The pantheists identify Visnu with the highest 
specimen of all substances and consequently with the Himalaya as the highest of 
all mountains. It is said that the extension of Hari's glory upward, downward 
and horizontally curved (trivikramf) was at a fixed time only when he took the 
corresponding three steps and covered all space but his is everlasting he covers 
space without any commencement 4 . Here, it maybe noted, the reference is to 
Visnu's dwarf incarnation. He is endowed with the eight attributes, atomic, 
etc. (animddigunopetam) by which he can subtilize or enlarge his stature 5 . 


Narayana has been identified by Kalidasa with Visnu 6 "The goddess bora 
of the thigh of the sage, the friend of Nara, is, while returning after she had 
attended on the lord of Kailasa, taken prisoner on the road by the enemies of 
the gods. 7 " Nara and Narayana of this reference arc originally two ancient rsis. 
To the former two hymns 8 and to the latter the famous Purusasukte 9 of the ^gveda 
are attributed. But in later literature they arc usually coupled together as 'most 
eminent ancient r$is' (pwanarslsattawa^ 'great ascetics' (tdpnsa) and 'gods and 
original gods' (detwu pfirvddwjit). Sometimes Narayana is represented as god and 
Nara as the wisest of men. Subsequently Nara came to be identified WJth Arjuna 
and Narayana with Vasudeva-K rsna and in this form they became dual deities whose 
representation in sculpture is not infrequent. Urvasi, said to be born from the 
thigh of Narayana in the above reference, flies into the sky, the middle region 
of ner father (piftth 1 ), who thus becomes identified with Visnu whose middle 
region, as represented through the second stride of Vamana as well as through the 
progress of the sun, is the sky. Sky as the region of Visnu has been referred to 
at another place also where Kalidasa describes it as dtmanah (i.e. Visnoh) padam 11 . 
Since Visnu, as said above, is originally only a sun-deity, the firmament becomes 
his legion as the progress of the sun through tlie sky is called a middle stride. 


Subsequently elevated to the status of an independent deity, Visnu natu- 
rally retained all tKe poetical conceptions that belonged to him when he was only 
a foim of the sun-god. Hence he came to be called T?rivikrama> i.e., 'three paced* 
or c of the threefold prowess,! an attribute which belongs to the sun. Thus again 
the ancient rsi Narayana having been identified with Visnu, all the attributes and 

1 Ibid. ,63. 

2 Ibid., 86. 

3 Ku. t VI. 67. 

4 Ibid., VI. 71. 
J Ibid., 77. 

nbid'' * 3 ' 

VI. 3 5, VI. 36. 
X. 80. 


11 IU^., XIII. i. 


the poetical conceptions of the latter carre to be associated with him. 

Mahdvardha^ l&hagavdn, Rama, Vdsttdeva-Krsihi 

Varaha or Mahavaraha 3 , Bhagavan 2 , Rama 3 and Vasudeva-Krsna 4 have all 
been identified with Visnu. Mahavaraha, Rama and Vasudeva-Krsna were 
2 11 famous incarnations of Visnu of whom the first rescued the Earth from the Dai- 
tyas, the second killed Ravana and the last rescued the people from the clutches 
of the cruel Kamsa. Krsna is given the Kaustubha gem of Visnu to wear 5 and his 1 
Gopala form also is alluded to in a context where Kalidasa compares the cloud 
adorned with a piece of rainbow with Visnu in the shape of the cowherd adorned 
with a shining peacock feather. Narayzna, evolved as the Supreme Being during 
the Brahmanic period, was later identified with Vasudeva 6 . 

It will be relevant to survey here the progress of the Vaisnava cult through 
its Bhagavat dharma and Vasudeva cult which has been referred to by Kalidasa. 
Vaisnavism with its incident of Vasudeva worship is at least as old as the Asta- 
dhyayi cii Panini 7 . An ambassador of the Graeco-Bactrian monarch Antialkidas 
named Heliodorus calls himself "Bhdgaratu^ i.e., a follower of Bhagavat dharma, 
in the votive inscription on the column bearing a Garuda capital which he erects 
in honour of Vasudeva at Besnagar in the 2nd century B. C. 8 . Later during the 
times of the Kusanas themselves most of the Puranic talcs regarding Vasudcva- 
Krsna take shape and we have in the Muttra Museum a stone slab bearing the 
carved scene of Vasudeva, the father of Krsna crossing the Jumna with the new- 
born babe over to Gokula in order to shield the child from the wrath of Karhsa. . 
Kalidasa himself refers to Gopala -Krsna 9 , calling him Visnu in the form of a Gopa. 
He also refers to his peacock feathers 10 and gives his other associates like his bro- 
ther Balarama CLdngalP*} and his wife Rukmim 12 . The reference to Kaliya and 
Kaustubha with regard to Krsna is also given 13 , although it may be noted that the 
poet while indirectly alluding to Krsna in the context of Indumatf s Svayamvar A 
does not save himself from falling into anachronism. It is significant that Radha 
has not been alluded to by Kalidasa. Possibly the stories connected with this 
lady-love of Krsna were yet getting shape. Jt is remarkable that the Imperial 
Guptas style themselves as ParamabhJgavat^ (Paramavat *nara\ There is no doubt 

., VII. 56. 

2 Ibid. ,X. 35. 

3 Ibid., XIXV. 

4 Mai., V. 2; Raghu., VI. 49, Tftajqtjj ftpsuft M. P., 1 5 . 
6 Ragbtt., VI. 49, X. 10; Af. P., 15. 

6 Vaisnavism, Satvism and Minor Religions Systems, by Sir R. G. Bahhdarkar, p. 45. 
Tt fT IV. 3, 98. 

8 Luders, Ltst of Brahfai Ins., No. 6. 

9 M . P., 15, text quoted ante. 


11 Ibid., 49. 

12 ^f 

13 Ejagbit., VI. 49. 

14 Ibid. 

16 Gadhwa St. Ins. of Candra Gupta II (both ist and 2nd parts); Ibid., of Kumara Gupta; 


about the fact that during the epoch in which the poet lived and wrote Vaisnav- 
ism was a leading cult. Besides their Vaisnava style in the epigraphs, their being 
worshippers of Bhagavat or Vasudev? is attested to also by the occurrence of the 
phrase faramahhagarata on the coins of Candra Guptall 1 , Kumara Gupta 2 and Skan- 
da Gupta 3 . There arc a number of other votive inscriptions and sculptures of 
the Gupta times pointing to the same conclusion. A four-armed Visnu figure 
carved on a panel at Udayagin is dated in the Gupta era 82, i. e. A. D. 4oo 4 . 
An enormous figure of Mahavarafo (an incarnation of Visnu) rescuing the Earth 
in the form of a woman and lifting it on its snout dating from the' reign of Candra 
Gupta II may be seen in the Udayagiri cave of Central India. It answers admir- 
ably to the poet's idea embodied in his phrase WAW, wuhdrarahtidiimstriiyam /'//- 
rantdj*. The epigraph inscribed on the Mehroli iron pillar of Candra (Candra 
Gupta II) calls the pillar a flag-staff of Visnu 6 . The great stone pillar of Skanda 
Gupta at Saidpur Bhitari records the installation of an image ( f Sarngin 7 , i.e., 
Vasudeva-Krsna. Kalidasa, it will be noted, also calls Visnu Saingin 8 . An jn- 
sciiption recording the erection of a temple of Visnuby Cakrapalita, the Viceroy 
of Skanda Gupta in Sauristra, opens with an invocation to tbe Vamana incarna- 
tion of Visnu. A fifth century pillar of Manclor near Jodhpur depicts scenes from 
Krsna legends like the overturning of a cart by Krsna and lifting of the Govar- 
(ihana. 'Atyanta Bhagavadbhakta* brothers Matnvisnu and Dhanyavisnu are re- 
ferred to nran inscription of A. D. 483 at Eran as having erected a dhvajastambha 
(flagstaff) in honour of Janardana 9 . Jayanatha's gift of a village for the repairs 
and up-keep of a temple of Bhagavat is the subject matter of a copper-plate in- 
scription of A. D. 495 found near Khoh in Baghelkhand. In a cave cut in Saka 500 
by MangaliSa of the Calukya dynasty 10 there are figures of Visnu and ^Narayana 
lying on the body of a serpent with Lakstru rubbing his feet, and of his incarna- 
tions boar and Narasimha 11 . The Bhagavatas have been mentioned by Varaba- 
mihira, whq died m Saka 509 (A.D. 587), as the peculiar worshippers of Visnu 12 . 
The DaSavatara temple of Ellora contains huge images of Visnu reclining on the 
serpent and his incarnations. Thus both before and after Kalidasa the cult cf 
Visnu was a progressive form of worship. During his own time the cult had mae^c 
a great headway as may be gathered from the Gupta epigraphicil records 
referred to above and from allusions to it in his own works. Visnu along with 
Brahma and Siva makes up the Trimurti. 

another of Ibid., at Gadhwa; Bihar St. P. Ins. of Skanda Gupta, znd part, etc. 

1 Allan: Gupta Coins, p. CXIV. 

2 Ibid., p. CXV, CXX. 

3 Ibid., p. CXXI, CXXIL 

4 C 1. 1., Vol. III. pp. 22 ff. 
*>/., VI. 8. 

frOTftwrsr: v. 3. 

7 Verse 10. 

8 &agfw. 9 XII. 70? Af.P., 46, U"., 47, etc. 

10 Pergusson and Bnigcss, Cave Temples, p. 407. 

11 Ibid* 

a, 60, 19. 


Siva along \vith Biahma and Visnu makes up the Hindu triad. He is a favour- 
ite deity with Kalidasa whom he invokes in the beginning of his works. * From 
this as well as from his frequent references to the deity it would seem that the poet 
himself was a worshipper of Siva and a follower of the Saiva cult. But Kali- 
dasa, it fnust be noted, was never a sectarian. As a matter of fact his praises 
and invocations to Brahma and Visnu are so devotedly worded that it can be said 
that he was no more a Saiva than a devotee of Visnu or a worshipper of Brahma. 
He is a veritable liberal in the treatment of religious beliefs and refers to sects 
other than Saivism with unmitigated respect. 

From the description given by Kalidasa we may easily conclude that Siva 
was considered a supreme deity. The names and attributes that are assigned to 
him well bring out his all powerful character. They are: ISa 1 , iSvara 2 , Mahes- 
vara 3 , Paramesvara 4 , Astamurti 5 , Vrsabhadhvaja 6 , Sulabhrt 7 , Pasupati 8 , Tryam- 
baka 9 , Tnnctra, Ayugmanetra, Sthanu 10 , Nilalohita 11 , Nilakantha 12 , Sitikantha, 
Visvesvara 13 , Candcsvara 14 , Mahakala 15 , Sambhu 10 , Hara 17 , Girisa lft , Bhutcsvara 19 , 
Bhutanatha-,Sankara 21 , Siva 12 , Pinaki 23 , etc. Several temples were dedicatedto Siva 
of which Kalidasa refers to a jycttrh n?.i called Mahakala at Ujjaini 24 , to another 
of VisveSvara 25 or Visvanatha at Benares, and to a third at Gokarna. Siva has been 
spoken of as the wearer of eight forms, as being identical with the five elements, 
mind, individuality and crude matter 26 . The worshippers of Siva who were pan- 
theists in the sense that to them Siva was himself all that exists, as well as the cause 
of all that is, held that there were eight different manifestations of their god (asfa- 

J/., I. i 

2 Vtk 9 I. i, IV 65, K/f, VI. 76. 
~ 3 Raghn., III. 49 

4 Ibid, I. i, II. 59. 

5 Ibid., 11, 35, A'//., T 57. 
R^//., II. 36,111. 23. 

7 Ibid., 38, Kit., VI. 94, VII. 40, etc. 

8 Ku. 9 VI. 95, M P., 36. 

9 Raghit , II. 42, III. 49, etc. 
JO K//,III. 17, K/*.,I. i. 
//.,]!. 57. 

12 Ibid., VII. 51. 

13 Ragbn., X VIII. 24. 
^ M. P., 33. 

15 Ibid., 34. 

16 Ibid., 60, 

37 Kit., VII. 44; R^//., IV. 32, etc. 

18 Ragbu., II. 41, XVI. 5 1, etc. 

19 Ibid., II. 46. 

20 Ibid., 58. 

21 Af. P., 33-36. 

23 Ibid. 

*' R^//., VI. 34; AL P., 34. 

25 Ragfa., XVIII. 24. 

z *Sa&. 9 1. i; Ragku., II. 35; Mdl. y I. 



murtfi\ called Rudra; and that these had their types in the eight visible forms, 
viz, Rudra, Bhava, Sarva, ISana, Paupati, Bhuma, Ugra and Mahadeva. It may 
be interesting to note that in the Vdjasaneyi Sawhitd 2 all these gods with Agni, 
ASani, etc. are enumerated as so many forms of the same god. In the Satapatha* 
and Sdnkhydyana* fttdhmanas they have been represented as eight different 
forms of Agni. The Sdkuntala enumerates the following ^ight forms* water, 
fire, priest, the Sun and Moon, ether (akasa), earth and air. 5 The Sahmtala 
refers to Siva with the appellation of la, the supreme lord 15 . Presiding oVer 
dissolution 7 , he is associated with Brahma, the creator, and Visnii the preserver. 
Kalidasa here refers to the religious predilection of his fellow townsmen by begin- 
ning and ending the play with a prayer to Siva, who had a large temple at Ujjain. 
He is alluded to have taken a deadly poison named Kalikuta at the deluge which 
gave a dark-blue colour to his neck in consequence of which he bears the names 
NJlakantha, Sitikantha and Nilalohita. He is represented in mythology as cons- 
tantly sporting at the head of ghosts in the cremation ground to which fact Kali- 
dasa alludes 8 . The following translation of a verse praying Siva brings out many 
of his functions and attributes: 

"Isa preserve you ! he who is revealed 

Tn these eight forms by man perceptible 

Water, of all creation's works the first; 

The fire that bears on high the sacrifice 

Piesented with solemnity to heaven; 

The priest, the holy offerer of gifts; 

The sun and moon, those two majestic orbs, 

Eternal marshallers of day and night; 

The subtle Ether, vehicle of sound, 

Diffused throughout the boundless universe; 

The Earth by sages called 'The place of birth' 

Of all the material essences and things; 

And air which giveth life to all that breathe 9 ." 

Siva has been alluded to as being the cause of the creation, preservation and 

destruction of all things animate and inanimate (sthdvarajangamdndm sargas- 

thihpratyavahdrahettP). The attribute of the cause of sargasthiti also has been 
given to Siva in imitation of the usual way in which a worshipper praises his own 
particular deity, however inferior in the theogony of his religion. The proper 

1 Ibid. 

2 39> 8- 

8 VI. 1,5,7. 

4 VI. i. 

5 I. i. 

' L i. cf. I. i; F/J*., L i, IV. 65; Kx., VI. 76. 
u.t II. 44; Ku. t II. 77, etc. 
^ K*.,V.68. 
lL 44. 


function of Siva is only the last of the thttzpratyavahdra, i.e., universal destruc- 
tion. His image is said to pervade the water 1 . This also signifies the fact of 
the Earth being submerged under water after the pralaya when Siva holds sway. 
He is the very image of the universe (jntvamtirtiVf. He is called ISvara, is en- 
dowed with the siddhis like the animd and he wears the crescent on his forehead 3 . 
The universe is upheld by him 4 . Yogis contemplate on him 5 . He is the; wit- 
ness (sdkst) of all actions performed in this universe 6 . All the Lokapalas with 
Irrdra as their head bow down to him 7 . A verse says: "He whom (the sages) 
describe in the Vedantas as the supreme spirit that remains (without space to 
occupy) after filling the earth and the heaven; he with respect to whom the word 
Isvara (ruler), having no other person to denote, is literally true; he who is sought 
within themselves by those desirous of salvation, who restrain the five winds 
commencing with prana may that Eternal one, easily obtainable, through firm 
faith and contemplation, grant you salvation: 8 " The phrase vydpyasthitim rodasi 
used in the above verse makes him so great as not to be containable by the earth 
and sky together. This idea has already been forecast in. the famous Purusa- 
sukta of the Rgveda where the deity is said to have encircled the earth from all 
sides and yet being above, uncontained, to the measure of ten angulas 9 . 

His Yorm _ 

Innumerable images of Siva, both alone and with Parvati, his consort, are 
extant. They were quite common during the Gupta period when both his image 
and the phallic form were worshipped. Several of those images of his, which do 
not show the face have locks of matted hair falling from the top of the linga. 
There are several such still worshipped at Muttra. A complete picture of a Siva 
image is given m Kalidasa's description of the deity in the context of his marriage 
in the Kumdrasambhava. Bhasma (ashes) is besmeared over his body 10 and the 
crescent serves for his tilaka mark on the forehead 11 . He wears the elephant- 
hide 12 (gcydjind)* This robe of Siva is also given to Rudra (his earlier representative) 
in the Afharvavedd^ where the latter is clad in an elephant-hide (krttlm 
vasdnam satarudriya). He uses snakes on several spots of the body for 
ornaments 14 . He is attended by his merry Ganas bearing swords 15 and by gods 

1 KM., II. 60. 

2 Ibid., V. 78, 78-81. 

3 Ibid., VI. 75, VII. 33; Vik., IV. 65, etc. 
*fa^f^f to., VI. 76. 

6 Ibid.,j 7 . 

6 flTSft faWW <*>4<J||H Ibid., 78. 

7 Ibid., VII. 45. 

8 Vik., Li. ^ 

9 3* ^jfir ftft^Rft KiK<jRi*65 <^i 1^*1*1 i x. 90, i. 

10 vn. 32. c * " 

11 Ibid., 33; Vtk.,lV. 65. 

Ibid; M. P., 36; Ma/. 9 1. i. 
13 XL 2, i. 

., VII. 34. 

id., 36. 


like Brahma and Visnu 1 , and by goddesses like Gariga and Yamuna bear- 
ing flywhisks 2 . He rides his bull- vehicle 3 , on whose back is spread the skin 
of a lion 4 . And the way of his Nandi wearing golden girdle containing tiny bells 5 
lies through the sky 6 . This picture has quite a number of specimens produced 
in sculpture. It may be remarked here that the poet makes a distinction between 
Nandi, one of Siva's ganas, and the .bull which Siva rides 7 . 

PdSupata Dharma 

Here we may, with profit, refer to the Pasupata cult of Saivism which played 
such an important part during the early centuries of the Christian era, which be- 
came almost the ruling cult in Saivism during the days of the Imperial Guptas 
and of which Kalidasa was probably a follower. The poet refers indirectly to 
the cult through his designations of Siva Pasupati 8 , Bhutanatha 9 , Bhutesvara 10 , 
etc. Here we may succinctly refer to the doctrine, and the progress of the cult 
through the centuries. The principles embodied in the system of Pasupati are 
three: (i) the lord (pati\ the individual sou] (P#/#)and(3) the fetters (P^jv;). 11 
The whole system has four Padas, or parts, which arc knowledge (Vidya}^ actions 
(Kriya), meditation ( Yoga\ and conduct or discipline (Cttrya 12 ). Rudra has already 
been given the epithet, Pasupa in the R^m/tf 13 , Tn the Atharraveda Bhava and Sarva 
are called fthutapati and fasupati and five distinct species of animals, kine, horses, 
men, goats, and sheep, are marked out as belonging to the rule of Pasupati 14 . 
In the Brahmanas Rudra becomes almost completely identified with Siva. In 
the Mahabbdratd^ the Pasupata is named as one of the five schools or religious doc- 
trines. Arjuna desires to possess the Pasupatastra which is endowed with the 
power of destroying the most formidable enemies 16 . Such a Pasupati Siva, says 
Kalidasa, is a deity 'easy to be obtained by firm devotion and contemplation' 
(sthirabhaktiyogamlabhal/ 7 ). 

Kalidasa refers to the composite figure called Ardhcniarisvara represented by 
Siva with Parvati on his right. Such images are quite innumerable in the Hindu 

1 Ibid., 4*. 

2 Ibid. ,42. 
'Ibid, 37,49. 

4 Ku. 9 VII. 37. 

5 Ibtd., 49. 


'*., VII. 37,111.41. 
Ibid., VI. 95; AT. P., 36. 
9 R^/A, II. 58. 

10 Ibid., 46. 

11 Bhandarkar: Vaisnavism* Samsm, etc., p. 177. 

12 Ibid. 

13 Lii5,9- 
14 XI. 2, 9. 

35 Santi P. (Narayanlya), Ch. 349. 64. 
16 Chs. 38-40. 

18 &%&*., I, i. etc. 


pantheon of the Gupta times. The god, fond of music and dancing and being their 
generator, is represented as dancing 1 . 


The conception of the Trimurti, the Hindu triad, is a compromise. It is 
a unity in diversity and it marks a drift from the pantheistic outlook to the mono- 
theistic one. We have seen in the foregoing pages that each of the deities, Brahma, 
Visnu and Siva, is all-potent in his sphere and to his devotee. But Trimurti is a 
composite picture where the functions and attributes of all of them have fused. 
As a matter of fact the prayers addressed and the attributes assigned to each of 
them have in themselves the necessary elements which made for a unified charac- 
ter. Kalidasa's idea that individual gods are nothing but several aspects of the same 
god also refers to the same idea. Here we must note that the catholic character 
cf the poet's treatment of popular religion must have gone a long way to keep 
down the jarring tendencies of the followers of different sects of later days. It 
is interesting to note that the exploits of the family of Raghu in which those of 
Rama (Visnu) arc the most important, open with an invocation to Siva while the 
K'tmdrasawbhava^ which is a story of Siva, contains an elaborate prayer to Brahma 2 . 
This method of Kalidasa has been carried on by Tulasidasa in his TLdmaearilamdnasa 
\\hich also, being a narrative of the exploits of Visnu through his incarnation of 
Rama, opens wJth a prayer to Siva, 


Skanda, the god of war and the Commander-in-chief of the celestial armies 3 , 
is the same as Karttikcya and Kumara. He is also called Saravanabhava 4 or Sara- 
janma 5 from the myth that he was born among reeds . He had a temple dedi- 
cated to him on the Dcvagiri hill 6 . He is generally represented in sculpture with 
six faces and as mounted upon a peacock. Kalidasa has taken note of his form 7 
which is reproduced by a Gupta sculptor, the figure now lying in the Muttra 
Museum. It is significant that Patanjali makes a reference** to the worship of 
this god and that a few coins of Kaniska show on their reverse figures with names, 
in Greek letters of Skando, Mahaseno, Komaro, and Bizago 9 . A Gupta inscrip- 
tion of A. D. 414 records the building of a Pratoli vt gallery by one Dhruva&r- 
man in the temple of Svami Mahascna at Bilsad 70 . 

1 M. P., 36. 
2 II. 4-16. 

Raghu., VII. i. 

* Af.P.,45- 

5 Raghu., III. 23. 

6 Af. P., 43-45- 

% " X VI. 4; cf. also Af. P., 44- 

!^<MWSrfzpTT 15^ Rtf#^-> VI. 4; c 

.Y 99 . 

. B. B. R. A. S. y Vol. XX. p. 385. 
bid., p. 395. 

w Ibid', p. 395 



Kubera, the lord of AUka 1 , is a lokapala, the guardian deity of the northerly 
direction which consequently derives the name KawertM* from him. His name is 
expressive of deformity. In sculpture he is represented as a typical bam a or banker 
sitting with a protruding belly and deformed shoulders holding a purse in his 
hand. Several images of this deity are preserved in the Muttra Museum. His 
worship had become considerably popular and this is why we come across 
references to him in the Gupta epitaphs 3 . Kalidasa also alludes to him frequently 4 . 


Sesanaga was a mythical serpent, the personification of eternity and king of 
the n3gas. His body formed the couch of Visnu, reposing on the waters of chaos, 
whilst his thousand hoods were the god's canopy. A number of images of this 
deity in this form are extant. He is also supposed to be supporting the earth 
on one of his hoods. 

Seven Mothers 

The Seven Mothers have been alluded to in the phrase wataratfi. They are 
enumerated in the Amaraknfa as the following: Brahml, Mahesvarl, Kuamari, 
Vaisnavl, Varahl, Tndram and Camunda 6 A row of the Saptamatrkas in low skirts 
is carved in high relief on a Muttra stone of the Kusana period. A similar row 
is to be met with in cave No. i/i of the Ellora cave temples. We have a reference 

to them along Skanda in a Gupta inscription 7 . 


Uma 8 , the consort of Siva, has been referred to by the poet under several 
names like ParvatI 9 , Ambika 10 , BhavanI 11 , Gauri 12 , etc. Her usual vehicle is 
the lion. 


Kali 13 , the destructive counterpart of Mahakala Siva, wears a necklace 

*M. P., 

2 Ragto., IV. 66. 

3 Allahabad Pillar Ins. of Samudra Gupta, C. L L, Vol. III., line 26; Eran Stone Ins. of 
Samudra Gupta, 1. 9; Mathura Stone Ins. of Candra Gupta II; Bhitan Stone Pillar Ins. of Skanda 

* Ragbx., V. 26, 28, IX. 24, 25, XIV. 20, XVI. 10, XVII. 81; Ku.> II. 22; Af. P., 7; Vik. 9 1. 4- 

6 Kit., VII. 38. 

6 3TT|ft ^I^VO ^Nr ifrfrft t^T^t fl*TT I 

<: u 

7 Bihar Stone Pillar Ins. of Skanda Gupta, 1. 9. 
Kk,L 43,IIL 58, 62, etc. 
9 Ibid., L 26, V. i, VI. 80; B^gAff., I. i, etc. 
30 K. 9 VIII. 1 8, 78, etc. 

12 JC*.,V. 50, VII. 95. 
18 Ibid., VII. 39. 


of human sculls 1 . She cannot be identified either with Uma or with one of v the 
Saptamatrkas as she is mentioned distinctly as one of the train of Siva 2 before his 
marriage following him after the divine Mothers 3 , 


Saci or Indram is the wife of Indra and is invoked at the beginning of a 
Hindu marriage to preside over the ceremony as she is considered a wife remaining 
ir? perpetual coverture. 

Gand and 

Gariga and Yamuna had already become goddesses and Kalidasa mentions 
them as the fly-whisk bearing attendants 4 of Siva. It may be noted that their 
representation as choun-bearers of gods or as auspicious decorative patterns car- 
rying water-pots and standing on the crocodile and the tortoise, the symbols of 
the aquatic animals predominating in the Ganges and Jumna respectively, were 
not infrequent during the Kusana and Gupta times. G?nga is supposed to have 
been generated from the toe of Visnu 5 . 

Sarasvaillor Bharati, the consort of Brahma, is the goddess of speech and lear- 
ning and the patroness-of arts and sciences. She holds a vma in her images. 

Laksmi 6 to whom sevqral references ate made is the consort of Visnu and is 
represented in sculpture as massaging the feet of her lord reclining under the hood 
of Sesa. A complete picture of this pose has been given by Kalidasa where she 
sits on a lotus, her silken robe having covered her girdle and Visnu's feet lying 
on her lap 7 . 

Pifr* mid 

Pitts have also been alluded to as semi gods receiving oblations 8 . These 
are the deceased ancestors. The primeval sages Bhrgu, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, 
Angiras, Marici, Daksa, Atri and Vasistha according to the Visnu Purdna are 
only seven 9 in references by the poet. Kalidasa follows the traditional number 
in this regard. They have been already numbered seven the Rpreda 1 *. There 

1 Ibid. 

2 Ibid. 

3 cf. Ibid., 38-39. 
4 Kit., VII. 42. 
6 Ibid., VI. 70. 

6 Ragb*., VI. 58, IX. 16, IV. 5; M. P., 32, etc. 

7 Ragbu., X. 8. 

8 Ibid., I. 66, 67, 69, 71, V. 8; Sak., VI. 25. 
Rgfa.,X.63;*i(.,I, 16. 

'<>IV. 42, 8. 


they are associated with gods 1 , and are called divine 2 . The Satapatha ftrahmana 
gives each a name 3 and so also does the tyhaddranyaka Upawsad*. The present 
belief which makes them stars the Ursa Major is already conceived in the 
Satapatha Brahteana, which calls them the constellation of the Great Bear 5 . In 
the story furnished by Kalidasa the Saptarsis beg the hand of Uma from her father 
for Siva 6 . 

The Vidyadharas,Kinnaras 01 K/mpurusas, Punyajanas, Yaksas, Siddhas and 
Ganas have been treated by the poet as endowed \vith divine powers which may 
reflect the popular belief. The Vidyaclharas were supposed to haunt the highest 
peaks of the Himalayas, Their belles are said to have written love letters on the 
birch leaves with geru 7 . Later, King Ham makes a 1 Vidyadhata the hero of his 

Kwiwra r 

Kinnaras were supposed to possess a human head and the body of 
a horse. Such specimens in sculpture arc preserved in the Muttra Museum, 
Another kind of them was that \vhich bore the head of a horse and the body of a 
human being. Females of this type have been alluded to by Kalidasa m his 
phrase asvamtikhya}fi The Ahwniitkh'i jfitak'i contains a story of such a being which 
finds itself carved on many a railing pillar of th? Kusana times. Like Gandharvas, 
they are also described as celestial minstrels 9 . They are otherwise called Kirh- 

Punya]anas> a similar kind of demigods, have been mentioned in the 
Athanwwda 1 along with the Gandhnrvas, Apsaras, Sarpas, Dtvas and Pitaris. 

Yaks a r 

Yaksas attended on Kubera, the lord of wealth, residing in Alakii. A detailed 
and fanciful description of their living and habitat is given by the poet in the later 
part of his Meghadtita. A regular Yalysa cult seems to have developed as early as 
the Mauryan period and numerous extant images of the Yaksas support the view 
that their worship had spread over a long range of time down to the Gupta period. 
It may be noted that the earliest specimen of the Indian sculpture is a Yaksa image, 

X X. 109,4. 
2 Ibid,, 130,7. 
^ XIV. 5,2,6. 
*II. 2,6. 
ML i, 2,4. 
6 Ktf., VI. 47-88. 
' j&f. f I. 7, 

8 Ibid., ii. 

9 Ibid., 8. 

VIII. 8, 15. 


carved in the round, of a colossal height 1 representing the Mauryan period. 
Finished by Dinna, it may yet be seen preserved in the Muttra Museum. Hun- 
dreds of Yaksa images, mostly carved in the round in all sizes, are exhibited there 
and they easily impress on the visitor the idea of a Yaksa cult and worship once 
current in the religious practices in India, The very fact that the poet 
chooses for the theme of his immortal Metadata the story of a Yaksa points 
conclusively to the prominent place of this class of demigods in the religious be- 
liefs of the people. They were the ideal in love and we may witness one 2 of the 
sculptural pieces of the Muttra Museum showing a Yaksa couple proceeding, 
perhaps to the matket place, in a most romantic fashion, putting on a slanting 
head-drpss in the manner of a modern Indian beau, and one of the couple 
supporting on the hand a bird like the parrot. The Yaksa seems to have been 
a symbolical embodiment of the romantic life of the people. The Yaks! when 
treated alone in art represents evil desires and passionate yearnings of man 
under the weight of which the latter is cjrushcd to death. Innumerable images of 
the Yaksl stand crushing under their feet the poor dwarfish creature, which is 
man, crouching under the weight of his own trsna, the Yaksl. 

Siddhas and Ganas 

Siddhas also, like the Vidyadharas, live on the top of the Himalayas 3 . 
They are also supposed to be semi-divine and possessing the siddhis. Ganas are 
similar inferior deities attending on Siva 4 , and supposed to be living under the 
lordship of Ganesa, the elephant-headed god and son of Siva. 

Theology and 'Polytheism 

The description of the individual gods given above brings in the context of 
theology to which we may briefly refer below. The existence of numerous gods 
in the Hindu pantheon of the time of Kalidasa points to the belief of the people 
in the doctrine of Polytheism. But although the existence of a plurality 
of gods docs point to Polytheism there is an essential unity running through 
the endless multiplicity of divinities 

Monotheism and Pantheism 

In the popular belief the individual gods held sway and in this 
regard the outlook of the people can be characterized polytheistic but 
from this polytheistic base there emerges a monotheistic conception, for 
whenever Kalidasa praises an important deity, for example Brahma, Visnu 
or Siva, he forgets the test for the present and makes him the gen- 
erator, the sustainer and the destroyer of the entire universe. Thus this 
belief in the omnipotence of one god and the conception of a fundamental unity 
in all the gods makes for what is called Monotheism. And inasmuch as the poet 
makes the universe part and parcel of God by making the latter the cause and end 
of the former, the principle of Pantheism also easily comes to be accepted. The 

1 Parkham Yaksa, No. C i. 

2 Plate XIV of Handbook of Sculptures m the ur%pn Museum oj Aichaeolagy b> V. S. .Agarwala. 
*K#.,T. 5. 

4 Ibid., VII. 40, 1. 54. 


principle of pantheism has been suggested in the prayer to Siva 1 where he is said 
to cover all tnfe universe, pervade it, and to be yet too large to be accommodated, 
He is also identified with the elements of nature and is hence called A?ta- 
murti 2 . 


Again the Vedantic 3 conception of KAlidasa regarding Siva ard the point of 
Siva being but single (ekaivamurtili) divided threefold 4 (i. e. Brahma, Visnu and 
Siva) directly point to the doctrine of Monism. 

Idol Worship * 

The endless number of gods that we have discussed above were worshipped 
through their idols 6 (pratima). A very high order of technique in iconography 
had already developed which had helped to bring into existence the numerous 
beautiful images and idols of the Mauryan, Kusana and Gupta periods. These 
images and icons were meant to be installed in temples dedicated to various gods. 
The Gupta epigraphs attest to the existence and to a growing number of conse- 
crated temples and other votive monuments. Kalidasa himself refers to several 
temples of gods (pratimdgrha*). A Siva temple at Benares dedicated to Vis- 
veSvara finds mention in the ^aghuvamsa 1 . The famous temple of Mahakala 
(Siva) otherwise known as Candesvara at Ujjayini has been described at length 
in the Meghaduta*. The same work refers to a temple dedicated to Skanda 9 . 
Thus the popular faith centred round the practice of idol worship. 

We shall now pass on to other religious practices, the rites and ceremonies 
like the samskaras, sacrifices and anusthanas, festive occasions, beliefs and 
superstitions, etc. 


Kalidasa refers to various Samsjcaras 10 or ceremonies necessary for the three 
Dvija 11 castes. These ceremonies were supposed to confer on them the rights 
of a new birth by virtue of which they were termed Dvija or the twice-born. 
Of them the following have been noted by the poet, viz., the Pumsavana, 

1 Vik. % I. i. 

2 Ragb*., II. 35; Sak. t I. i; Mai, I. i. 
8 /C//. s VII. 44. 

/7^//., XVI. S9 ft^ It>J<l., X. 7, 

etc. We have already discussed the making of images and idols of gods in our chapter on 
Sculptures and Terracrttas. 

' XVIII. 24. 

m, 33 ff. also n^HftfrtH Ragbu., VI. 34- 


,III. 1 8, X. 78. 
11 Ibidem. 10; J^p. 219. 


Jatakarma, 1 Namadheya, 2 Cudakarma 3 , Upavita, 4 Godana, 5 Vivaha 6 and 
Daaha. 7 " 


Vumsavana is the first of the purificatory rites performed on the quickening of 
the foetus on a \voman perceiving the signs of a living conception with a view 
to the birth of a male child 8 . Hindus from the earliest times rejoiced at the idea 
of being blessed with a son, who freed them from one of the three debts, that of 
their ancestors 9 . The most important and peculiar part of the Purhsavana cere- 
mony is one in w*hich a grain of barley and two of masha are placed on the palm 
of the right hand of the woman and after pouring a small quantity of\ cream or 
curds over these the woman is made to sip and taste the whole while mantras are 


Jdtakarma, natal ceremony, is the fourth of the purificatory rites and the 
first after the child-birth. It was performed before the scission of the navel 
string. Soon after the birth of a son was announced the father saw his face and 
bathing and anointing himself properly, he performed a Sraddha to his nine ances- 
tors and gave to the babe honey mixed with clarified butter. Narayanabhatta 
gives the details of this ceremony in his Prayogaratna. 

Ndmadheya and Cuddkarma ~ 

The father performed this rite, but in his absence any one might take his place. 
Treatises on samskaras and prayogas do not make a difference between the birth 
ceremonies of a Brahmana and those of a Ksatriya. T&tNdmadheya sariiskara was 
performed just after the purificatory bath after the natal impurity was over accord- 
ing to Sarikha quoted by the commentator 10 . Cudakarma was performed in 
the first or the third year of the child 11 . It was in this ceremony that the bunch of 
long hair 12 (sikha) on the crown of a male child was left to grow. 

1 Ibid., III. 1 8; Sdk. y pp. 249, 261; Vik., p. 128. 

2 Ragto., III. 21, V. 36, VIII. 29, X. 67. 
'1TO (U^) Jbid., III. 28. 

4 -A 1 ** 

4 Ibid., 29. 
Ibid., 33. 

6 Ibid., also cf. Ragbu., VII and KM., VII. 
., VIII. 73. 

II Siunaka quoted by 

the commentator; i^% fgtftf g^efT qpppf 2RT <J3T TST^T TOJTT^: ^ Paraskara quoted 
by the commenUtoi. 

9 ^faffa*TTr^ &&*., X. 2; tfdfrsep. . .N*qft*&f% &*, P- 220; also cf. R^gA*., I. 
66;&fc.VI. 25; Vik., V. 9. 

10 'sreft^ g o^rd^i^i HNt>4 flpfta^' on R^^., p. 42, ni. 21. 


II Manu&mrtt* II. 

ti. ,111. 28. 



Upanayana 1 was a ceremony performed on the male child of a 'dvija' when he 
was given a sacred thread to wear and when he was first initiated in the vedic 
studies. It was thus a ceremony of initiation. The sacred thread has been con- 
sidered on the person of ParaSurama as the representative of his father 2 (pitrya- 
mamSa\ a Brahmana. His bow likewise was considered the sign of a Ksatriya 3 and 
in his case pointed to his descent from a Ksatriya mother Renuka, the daughter 
of king Prasenajit. In still earlier times, however, the Upavita was not the charat- 
teristic of a Brahmana alone, but of the first three classes alike. From Kalidasa 
mentioning it as if it belonged to the Biahmanas exclusively, it is quite likely that 
in his time it had come to be considered fit to be worn, as now in some cases, by 
the Brahmanas alone. This thread, as described in the Manusmrtfi, could' be made 
of various substances, such as cotton, hemp or woollen thread according to the 
class of the wearer, and it was worn over the left shoulder and under the right arm. 
The right of investiture with this thread which conferred the title of 'twice-born* 
was performed on youths of the first three classes, at ages varying from eight to 
sixteen, from eleven to twenty-two, and from twelve to twenty-four, respectively 
in pursuance of the Code of Manu 5 . 


Godana 6 was the first shaving ceremony. This ceremony differed from the 
Cudakarma in that it was performed when the chin was shaved for the first time. 
According to the Code of Manu 7 it was performed in the sixteenth year of a Brah- 
mana, twenty-second year of a Ksatriya and in the twenty-fourth year of a Vai- 
ya. According to the description of Kalidasa, it seems that the Godana ceremony 
preceded the 'Vivaha' ceremony by a few hours and that it was probably per- 
formed on the occasion of Marriage 8 . 


Vivaha was the next ceremony, that of marriage. Kalidasa gives a detailed 
account of the various forms of this samskara which we have already discussed at 
length in a previous chapter. Then comes the last that the poet has mentioned. 
DaSaha. This was the last ceremony performed on a Dvija when he was dead. It 
refers to the tenth impure day after which the Sraddha ceremony was performed 
when the final purification was attained. These ten days were counted since the day 
of death, and so the samskara included all the rites relating to obsequy, or aurdh- 

1 Upanayana or initiation in Vedic studies is a subject for which Kalidasa furnishes 
enough that we have discussed under Education. 

2 Ragbu., XI. 64. 
s Ibid. 

MI. 44- 
fi lbid., 36 ff. 

R^.,III. 33. 
7 Manusmrtt) II. 65. 

III, 33. 


.vadaihikam 1 , for example, the final decoration 2 (antyamandanam) of the dead body 
(which, as the passage this very painting will be my funeral adornment 3 states, 
refers to a custom according to which the dead body was adorned with ornaments 
and flowers and anointed with aguru and sandal wood 4 before being consigned 
to fire); Agni-Samskara 5 or actual setting fire to the funeral pyre, after wrapping 
the dead body with the new white cloth (preta cwar<P)\ and final'y the rites of the 
tenth day 7 . It particularly refers to the obsequial ceremony on the tenth 
day, still prevalent in Kashmir, which is practised in a still more complicated 
form among the Sivitcs of Kashmir. Vallabha^ a commentator on K^lidasa, 
however, points out that Cw Disaha here denotes a particular ceremony and not the 
fen days of impurity 8 /' 

We read of morning purities 9 forming the many rites to be performed in 
course of the day by a dvija as enjoined by the Sastras. 


B:fore we proceed to discuss the religious observances, rites and ceremonies 
it will be necessary to make a reference here to the sacred fire through which all 
the sacrifices reached gods and with the help of which the ceremonies and rites 
were performed. The brahmacari performed his vanous rites by the sacred fire 
and the householder offered his daily and other sacrifices with the help of it. It 
was the sacred fire of which the couple made rounds at the time of the marriage 
and they were expected consequently to keep it kindled all their life. The poet 
refers to the various kinds of the sacred fire. In the VutghuvawSa 1 * he alludes in- 
directly to its three kinds, namely Daksma, Garhapatya and Avahanlya 11 which 
a twice-born was enjoined to consecrate and keep up. Manu 12 mentions two more 
fires, namely Sabhya and Avasath. The second of the three fires was that which 
the householder received from his father and passed on to his son and from which 
fires for sacrificial purposes were lighted; the third was that, lighted from the per- 
petual fire, in which all the offerings were made. A particular room of the house 
consecrated for this purpose was called agnyagarfp, fire -chamber, where fire was, 

1 Ibid., VIII. 26. 

2 Ibid., VIII. 71; cf. Ku. 9 lV. 22. 

On ilTimu^^ AS.alayana's injunction is as follows 

. Grhyapanstja, Adhyaya III, Khanda i. 

MaJ. 9 p. 45. 
4 /., VIII. 71. 

Ibid., XII. 56; cf. Ibid., VIL 72, 57; Kit., IV, 22. 

7 a. ibid., vm. 73; &*., p. 94. 

8 ^TT^tS^f fofafesr^ft T 5 ^^rf^Hi^nid Vallabha 770 Eirth-Place of Kalidasa by Lakshmidhar 
Kalia, p. " 

*., V. 6. 

V. 25,1. 6. 

11 Aianusmt ft, II. 321. 

12 Ibid., III. 100, 185. 

v., V. 25; $fpT$|'<qi ^J/fe., pp. 125, 156; K//fe., p. 60. iHH^rf Ma/. 9 p. 88. 


kept always kindled. Every morning and evening oblations were offered to 


Kalidasa describes sacrifices frequently 1 . We have already referred to the 
horse sacrifice as a means of conquest in a previous chapter. This was of a 
political nature. In the following pages we shall briefly discuss its religious as- 
pect. Sacrifices were long and short. That kind of sacrifice in which prrests 
sat a sacrificial session was called a dirghasatra*. According to the fanciful theory 
of the W)dgavata Purdna, the period of time required for the performance of a satra 
varied between a year and a thousand years 3 . Adhvara* has been explained by 
earlier writers as a sacrifice in which there was no killing 5 . But Kalidasa does 
not seem to use it in this sense as his references allude to the immolation of ani- 
mals and 'medhya' indeed originally referred to the object which was to be sacri- 
ficed. The animal was tied to a post called Ytipa 1 and the process of fastening 
of the sacrificial victim itself was one of the rites of the sacrifice 8 . The poet speaks 
of villages granted to the Srotriya Brahmanas marked by the abundance of sacri- 
ficial posts 9 . Two colossal images of such a Yupa with an argald^ fastening rope, 
in relief are preserved in the Muttra Museum one of which is dedicated for wor- 
ship by a Samavedf Brahmana 10 . 


At the beginning of a sacrifice the sacrificer (yajamana 11 ) underwent an ini- 
tiatory ceremony called dlksa 12 . At that time Siva was supposed to enter his body 13 
and make it as sacred as himself. The sacrificial enclosure was called Yajna- 
jarapa 14 anddt coyld not be left by the sacrificer after he had once entered it 15 . 
The close of the sacrifice was marked by the performance of an important ceremony 

1 TO Ragbn t > I. 26, 44, VIIT. 30; KM., I. 17, II. 46, VI. 72; jpsnc Ragbu., I. 31, V. i, VI. 
23, XL j, XVI. 35; sr^np I^d., I. 84, IX. 22, XIII. 61; 5^ Ibid., IX. 20, XVII. 80; Ku. 9 
I, ji; ^f R^*. I. 80; ^aenr VIII. 75; Sak., III. 24, cf. also R^//., I. 82, VI. 38, IX. 21, 
X. 4, Ji, 79 XL 24, XL 25, 30. XIII. 37; K*., VI. 28. 
.,I. 80, 1^5 XVII. 80. 

.,L 3i,V. i, VI. 23, XL i,XVI. 35. 

5 Vnle Mannsmrti, V. 44. 

6 H^HK^MMI^n . , . J 5ftf^nT: a&' 9 VI. i; also cf. the use of the Yupas. 

7 RagbH., L 44, XL 37, VI. 38, IX. 30, XIII. 61, XVI. 35. 

8 Cf. Eagbu., XL 37. 
Ibid., L 44 , 

W Q. 13 of J. Ph. Vogal Catalogue. 
"K#., VI. 28; R^., I. 82; cf. Raghu., IX. 21. 
"R^*., VEIL 75, XL 24. 
18 Ibid., IX. 21. 

14 The letter of Emperor Pusyamitra to his son Agnimitra ; Ma/., p. 102. 
18 Cf. Raghu.y VIII. 75, ^|c^*(^f^^r^r^dKlft^\'Wift^lilv^^ir*l^lil Also Baudhayana, 


called Avabhrtha 1 (which itself was a short sacrifice). It was performed with 
sixteen officiating priests at the conclusion of a difghasatra, and it consisted chiefly 
in collecting the articles, the sacrificial implements and the refuse of the princi- 
pal sacrifice for throwing them down in a river after offering oblations to Varuna, 
and in taking the final bath 2 . 

Vifvajit And Putresti 

Kalidasa alltides, besides the Atvamedha ard the Dlrghasatra, to two other 
kinds of sacrifices called the VisvajifiwA Putresti*, the former of which was per- 
formed after a world conquest and hence styled as Mahdkratu. It distinguished 
itself from 'other sacrifices of conquest by making thesacrificer give all his trea- 
sures away 5 . The Putresti was performed by one desirmg a son. 

Daksind to Priests 

sind*^ the sacrificial fee, was an essential gift to officiating priests made 
after the conclusion of a sacrifice. The number of the officiating priests had long 
before become sixteen. Two of them, the Hota 7 and the Rtvij 8 , have been men- 
tioned by the poet. The former of these was a term applied to the sacrificer, 
Yajamana, also. The latter (i.e. Rtvij) was the priest. Daksina to sixteen priests 
would indeed have been considerable. After the ViSvajit sacrifice which Raghu 
performed his treasury became absolutely empty 9 and he had to make use of 
utensils made of clay 10 instead of those of gold/ 

The material offered at the sacrifice was called medbyaP-. It could be an animal 
or other offerings called havi 12 (also wadhd) otpayascaru 1 *, khtra (a preparation of 
rice in milk and sugar). It was because of accepting the havi that the sacrificial 
fire was called Havirbhuj 1 *. The sacrifices were usually cffered to Indra 16 , whence 
he was styled as makhdmsabhdf* ?lso. Sruca 18 , ladle, made of the Vikankata-wood?* 

1 Ragtu., I. 84, IX. 82, XIII. 61. 

2 Bauctta ana, Agnitomasutra, Pnia 5, Sutras 62, 63 cf. ^feTRfts WTt 3%: Atnarakofa. 
Also a purificatory bath at the close of a great sacrifice. Vide Taittmya Rrahmana,\\. 66* 

3 R^., V. i. 

4 Ibid, X. 4. 

5 Ibid. 

6 Ibid,, I. 3 1, XVIL 80. 

7 Ibid., I. 82. 

8 Ibid., X. 4, XL 25, 30, XVII. 80. 

Ibid., V. i. 


i ibid., 2. 

" Ibid., I. 84. 

**Ibid., 79, XIII. 37; Ku., II. 15, 46, VI. 28. 

13 Ragbu., VIII. 30. 

"&&*., X. 51. 

15 Ibid., 79. 

" Ibid., VI. 23, etc. 

" Ibid., III. 44. 

i Ibid., XL 25. 

Ibid., XL 25- 


and aranfl were respectively the implements by which the oblations (dhutP) were 
offered and the file churned. 'Sruvd has been explained by Sir N. Monier 
Williams as 'a small wooden ladle (with a double extremity, or two oval collateral 
excavations, used for pouring clarified melted butter into the large ladle or 
Sruk\ sometimes also employed instead of the latter in libations.)' 3 Aram 
is likewise explained by the same lexicon as c the piece cf wood used for kindling 
fire by attrition/ 4 Kusa 6 , a sharp grass, was also utilized in the sacrifices. .The 
sacrificer during the performance of the sacrifice carried a stt fP* (danda) and sat on 
a skin 7 (ajind). The altar was known as wdi*. 

Endless slaughter of animals in sacrifices seems after all to have reacted on 
the minds of some as we find a reference to a sacrifice free from -killing an 
animal and thus rendered agreeable to the eye 9 . Buddhism also must have 
contributed its quota in bringing about such ideas respecting Lfe. 


Apart from the institution of sacrifices there were other modes of worship. 
The act of worship was variously called as saparyd^^ ridhi 11 ^ kriydF*^ arcana^ ', 
halikarMa u ,ptljd 15 , and the like. Vidhi also stood for the proper mode 16 of the 
worship. Kusa 17 , durva 18 , uflhusked rice 39 (aksata)> flowers 10 , etc. were the main 
requirements in worship. Arghya*^^ a preparation of honey and clarified butter mix- 
ed with certain other ingredients, was an offering made to gods 22 and guests 23 . We 
learn of offerings made at least twice a day, i. e., in the morning 24 as well as in the 
evening 25 . Anajalikrlyd^ was the offering of water made during the daily prayer. 

l Ku. 9 VI. 28. 

2 Rd/W.,I. 82. 

8 Sumskrit-Engli \b Dictionary, p. 1274, column 3. 

4 Ibid., p. 86. column E. 

5 Ibid., T. 49. 

8 Ibid., IX. 21. 
7 Ibid. 

*Sak. 9 III. 24. 

. 22. 

11 Ibid., I. 56, V. 76, VIII. 76; Ku., VIII. 50. 
Rgfaf. f V. 7; A'//., 73, VIII. 47. 

13 Sa&. 9 p. n 7 . 

14 Ibid., F/.,III. 2,M. M. 9 22. 
15 R/7g^.,VlL 30. 

16 Ibid., 22; K#,, VIII. 47. 

17 &&*., I. 49- 

18 F/>fe.,II. 1 2, etc. 

*., H. 21; ^3f Ibid., VII. 25, 26; Ku., VII. ST. 

20 K/'/fe., Ill, 2; Afc/., p. 66; Af. L7., 24. 
l R^g**., V, 2; to., VI. 50. 
22 Ragfa., V. 2. 

to., VI. 5. 

24 r., V. 76. 

2 Ibid., I. 56; to,,*Vm. 47, 50; tit., III. 24. 


This was also an incident of an cffering made in an obsequial ceremony wherein 
sesamum (tild) was also used along water 1 . The rqodes of worship were pres- 
cribed by the sastras 2 which were followed 3 . 


We read in K&lidasa, besides the above, anusthdnas* and vrata s* or religious 
rites and observances. Arujsthana among other things meant the reciting of certain 
Vedic verses for a certain number of times within the limit of a definite period 
accompanied by fasts and cffering of oblations. It was performed to avert an 
imminent calamity, to restore a sick man's health or to gain an objective. For 
its performance generally a part of the house was kept separate. It was called 
mangalagrha*\ and it may have included even the agnyagdra about which we have 
already made a mention. 


Vratas, religious observances, were commonly observed. Their main 
feature was fasting 7 (upavdsd) during which certain rites were perform- 
ed, Vrata was broken with a meagre meal called pdrana* when Brahmanas 
were fed and presents 9 were given to them. Vratas were kept on the fulfilment 
of a vow, and on certain religious festivals. A woman performing a vrata put 
on a white gaiment, a few indispensable ornaments and stuck durvd blades, 
in her locks of hair 10 . The separation from the husband threw a wife into a 
state of vrata and her clothes got soiled and her tresses dry and rough 11 . We 
read also of a wife observing a vow for gaining the pleasure of her husband 12 
(priyaprasddanavratarii). Some people kept the fatal observance of prdyopavesa 
which was a gradual death through fasting. It must have been something in the 
manner of the religious suicide of the Jainas. Ka.lidasa very enthusiastically des- 
cribes the Govrat^ observed by Dillpa. The veneration of the cow was a marked 
feature of the poet's days and already she had been made worthy of a reverential 
round by the scripture. Asidhdrdvrata 1 * was perhaps the act of sleeping on the 
same bed with a young wife and yet abstain ing from the temptation of sex appe- 

- P- 94J also 3fap?5rfrr* Hrfg/k/., VIII. 68. 

2 srreree i^ghu. y v. 7 6; frfafoft K*., VIIL 47- 

3 Ibid. 6 

*M?/., Act. V. 

*SaJk. 9 VII. 21; Vtk., III. 12, Ibid., pp. 74, 77- 
6 Afo/.,p. 88. 

7 SaJk., p. 81; fLagbu., VIIL 94. 
//., II. 39, 55- 

10 ]/>., III. 12. 

"fe.,VII. 21. 

Vtk. 9 pp. 74, 77- 
38 Ragbtt. 9 VIIL 94. 
14 Ibid., II. 25. 

I. 67. 


tite 1 . It may also have indicated a difficult task. 
Religious Festivals Puruhuta 

We may here make a brief mention of the religious festivals when certain 
gods were worshipped, The Puruhuta 2 festival was observed an honour of Indra 
ofi the first appearance of the rainbow. It was held for five days from the eighth 
of the bright half of Bhadrapada to the twelfth. Kale explains this festival 
as follows: "Its chief feature is the erection of a post with a flag attached to 'it. 
Its size ^r^R ^*<T*IT jrg^ srfaftsR; i <flrr: ^fW ^ncft 3^ ^^Rnr n 3^, 
35jpr*cp3r lit., is he who is invoked^ by many, either for protection or in 
sacrifices; Indra, $9g3Hrar, originally meant the rainbow which being the 
standard of fresh or retiring clouds was worshipped to show honour to Indra, 
the god of rain 3 ." 


Kdkabalfi was performed for the safety of a husband living in a distant 
land. The wife hung up flowers corresponding to the number of days 
her husband was expected to remain absent. She then threw them on the floor, 
one by one, to ascertain the number of days that they had passed alone. 


or the great vernal festival was celebrated on the return of the 
spring, in honour of Kamadeva, the god of love, who was worshipped with 
mango blossoms 6 . The occasion was marked with distribution of sweets 7 . This 
festival at present has become identical with the Holi y the saturnalia or the 
carnival of the Hindus when people of all conditions take liberties with one 
another, especially by throwing coloured water with syringes and waterpipes, 
as described in the Ratnavali. Rtt/tsava or Vasantotsava was also celebrated by 
inaugurating the performance of a piece of drama. The Mdlavikdgmmitra was 
first staged on such an occasion 8 . 

Full-Moon Night 

On full-moon days the public (Janata) celebrated the occasion by coming 
out in the open and enjoying the sight of the setting sun and the rising moon 9 . 
It was pre-eminently a social festival. 

Festivals were observed by decorations. The external form of a festivity 

'rtftr ^ft^Hi: II YSdava. 

3 Ragbwamsa, note on IV. $. 

4 M. U. 9 22, 24. 

6 Raghu. 9 IX. 46; $ak. 9 pp. 189, 912. Mai., p. 2. 
*fy&. 9 p. 191. 

7 mi 9 p. 48, 

, p. 2. 


was the decoration of the houses and the city with auspicious articles like torana 1 , 
flags 2 , made of China silk, and paintings 3 , etc. Ayodhya, at the coronation of 
Rama 4 Osadhiprastha 5 , the imaginary city of Himalaya, on the occasion of 
Siva's marriage with Parvati, and Kundinapura 6 , the capital of Vidarbha, were 
all well decorated. Toranawzs a row of hanging leaves from a rope tied to 
posts in front of doors and along walls 7 . It was also constructed in the form of 
crescent gates, or arches, 8 on roads through which a procession passed. 


An important religious practice was to visit the places of pilgrimage. A bath 
at a place of pilgrimage (ttrthcP) was supposed to wash away sins and to attain 
righteous merit for the bather. The places of pilgrimage were generally fixed 
on the bank of some sacred stream, or*in the vicinity of some holy stream. Satt- 
tirtha, referred to in the Sdkuntala, was such a place of pilgrimage and so were 
the confluences of the Ganga arid Yamuna 11 (trivem)^ and Ganga and Sarayu 12 . 
Kanva goes to Somatirtha 13 (Prabhasa) in order to propitiate the evil destiny of 
Sakuntala. Other places of pilgrimage were Gokarna 14 , Puskara 15 , Apsarastirtha 16 . 
The bank of the Tamasa was full of ascetics 17 and consequently it was considered 
a place of pilgrimage. A dip at these tirthas was supposed to render the soul free 
from re-birth 18 and the attainment of the status and body of gods 19 possible. At 
the coronation ceremony of a king water brought from places of pilgrimage was 
used for his consecration 20 . 

Popular Beliefs and Superstitions 

Let us now describe the religious beliefs and superstitions of the people. A 
blind faith in superstitions and omens is a weakness of all early peoples, and 
Indians at the time of Kahdasa were no exception to this rule. Kalidasa says that 

1 Ibid., VII. 4; M. Cf., 12; Ku. 9 VII. 3. 

2 Ecnsf Ragbu., VII. 4; //., VII. 3. 
3 Af. 17., 12. 

*.,XII. 3. 

., VII. 4. 
7 Ibid.,Af. [/., 12. 

8 RagbH., VII. 4; M. U., 12. 

9 Rffgbit., V. 8, VIII. 95, XL 4, 7; Ku., VI. 56; $ak., pp. 22, 172, 182, 206, 260, V. 30. 
10 Pp. 172, 206. 

31 Ra&to., XIII. 54-57; ^im+jH4): ^T?T Vtk., p. 121. 

,. 95. 

13 SaJk., p. 22. 

14 Rg/k/., VIII. 35. 

15 Ibid., XVIII. 31. 

16 J*>fe., V. 30, pp. 88, 260. 

17 dMR^HItyi 3TW Ragb*., IX. 72. 

18 Ibid., XIII. 58. 

19 Ibid., VIII. 95. 

20 Ibid., XIV. 7. 


the throbbing of the right 1 eye foreboded ill to women and that of the left one 2 
good to them. Likewise the throbbing of the right arm 3 in case of a man was 
supposed auspicious and expected to result into something very beneficial to him. 

The noise of jackals was considered an ill-omen 4 and the work-in-hand was 
postponed to counteract the effects of the omen. Likewise the vulture was con- 
sidered a very inauspicious bird and to auger evil to an army round whose flags 
it fluttered 5 . 

Amulets of protection 6 and charms of victory 7 were worn by children and 
men respectively. A kind of amulet was a sort of locket, containing some herb 8 
(apardjita) with supposed talismanic properties and was worn round the wrist as 
a safeguard against the dangers of evil spirits or the evil eye. Aparajita i^ a clim- 
ber and is botanically known as Clitoris ternata. If an undesirable person touched 
tlfe body of the child wearing this amulet, itVas supposed to change instantaneous- 
ly into a serpent and bite that person 9 (sarpo bhiltvd dasatt}. 

It was believed that those who had cultivated the charm or vidyd called Tjras- 
karini^ and thus attained the power of remaining invisible, could disappear all 
of a sudden from the vision of all around them although remaining actually 
where they were. Rariganatha explains it as antardhdna vtdydt\\z power of remain- 
ing unseen. We read of a particular Stkhdbandhana vtdyd known as Aparajita^-. 
'The idea appears to be", says S. P. Pandit, "that they were taught certain charms 
which they % were to repeat and as they repeated them they were to tie their hairs. 
As long as the tie remained undisturbed they were to be proof against all moles- 
tation from the enemies of the gods. Tying certain parts of the body with charms 
is still practised and with this belief. ---- The Sikhabandhana may be either tying 
the hair by collecting into a knot or simply tying a piece of thread round it'as 
round the arm. Brhaspati appears to have taught the Apsarases the vidya in 
question 12 ." 

The belief in the lines of the palm as divine writing predestining every happen- 
ing has been alluded to 13 , and we can infer from it that palmistry was a supposed 
science of current belief. Belief in astrology in the effect on the fate of a person 
of the nearness or distance of a particular good or evil star has been registered 14 
by the poet. It was believed that the swan had the instinct of separating water 
from milk 15 . 

. 161. 

2 Mal. y p. 92. 
**., VII.; 
* R/g&f., XVI. 12. 
5 Ibid., XL 26. 

F Safe*, p. 248. 

*., xvi. 74; ^rn=ntf ibd., 8 3 . 

8 Sak. 9 p. 249. 

9 Ibid., p. 249. 

3 Vik.> pp. 41 > 47, 49> T^; .fa*.rp. 1*9. 

11 Ibid., p. 40. 

12 S. P. Pandit, Note on the passage in the Vikramorratt, Act. II. 
Kif.,V, 58. 

, p. 71. A*., VI. 28. 


A passage refers to a general belief of the people in the idea that a miser whose 
whole heart is set on his treasure throughout his life becomes a seipent after his 
death and keeps guard over his treasure buried in the earth 1 , so that no one can 
touch it without the risk of his life. The guarding of the treasure is a very old 
belief and -must have originated from the idea that serpents live in the nether re- 
gions and treasures also 2 re kept under ground. The stiipa of Rampurava con- 
.taining the remains of the body of Buddha was guarded by serpents of which many 
representatipns in sculpture may be witnessed in the Muttra Museum. 

It was an established belief that the cobra could be reduced to a helpless con- 
dition 2 and made a prisoner within a charmed circle by serpent charmers. It is 
so even at the present time. Sn?ke-bite was sought to be remedied by the perfor- 
mance of a rite called Udakuwbha-vidhantP* The details of the rite curing a snake- 
bite by using charmed water from a specially enchanted water-jar will be found 
in the passage quoted in the commentary from the Rhairvatantra. It appears that 
something bearing a serpent's image was duly enchanted which, it was believed, 
acted as an antidote. This is the manner in which the feigned snake -bite of the 
Vidusaka in the Malavikdgmtmtra is sought to be cured. From the following 
speech of the Vidusaka it also appears to have been a common notion of the people 
that a person who falsely pretended an illness was visited by the fates with a reality 
of it in retribution, and he is glad that he is fortunate enough to escape the chas- 
tizement of pretension after a mere fright: "I think, however, I am punished for 
the pretended snake-bite 4 ." 

There were also Dairacintakas* or fate-tellers who were believed to read and 
foretell the destinies of people. They seem also to have been attached to royal 
courts who, under the code of the Artha$dstra*> received regular salaries like 
other officials of the State. 

It was believed that an adverse fate could be reconciled through propitia- 
tion 7 . We read of moving shades of apparitions 8 , of houses haunted by ghosts 9 
and of persons possessed 30 . 

It was the current popular belief that subjectively developed powers could 
work wonders. These powers were termed siddhis 11 animd y laghimd, etc. and 
through these one could even journey through the air (sky 12 ). Power to enter 
through closed doors was supposed attainable through the pratice of yoga 13 . 


I. 32. 

" Rjagau.y ii. 3; 

3 Ma/.) p. 69. 

4 Ibid., p. 82. 

5 Ibid., p. 71. 
Bk. V. clj. 3. 

8 Ibid., III. 24. 

9 *MTftppp% *njT: Ibid., p. 223. 

IQ * * TV|y-1 * 

11 Ibid., p. 30. 

12 P^^IAI^I Tc^T Ibid., p. 263. 
^JLsjgfc^XVI. 7. 


Most of the Puranic traditions and mythological legends had got current. 
Thus the story of Sahara's sacrificial horse and Kapila Muni 1 , the birth of Agas- 
tya from a jar 2 , the birth of the Ganga from the toe of Visnu 3 and her subsequent 
descent to Earth from Siva's matted hair through the efforts of Bhaglratha 4 were 
current beliefs. So also were current the superstitions of a rock-raining mountain 5 . 
the flying mountains 6 , the gods moving in the sky 7 , celestial women 8 , Bali's de- 
ceipt by Visnu 9 , the rescue of Earth by Mahavaraha an incarnation of Visnu 10 ,. 
the birth of Harim in the form of Indumati 11 , the existence of fire , in the Sam! 
tree 12 and such other legends referred to at several places in this work. The Pura- 
nic legends had become so current that they were recorded by poets freely and 
were understood clearly in poetical allusions. 

The age undoubtedly believed in the supernatural tales that were made current 
by the Puranas many of which were compiled during the epoch of the poet. 
Magical incantations and occult rituals were freely practised. In this regard the 
picture of society painted by Kalidasa is very much similar to that described by 
Dandin, the writer of the great romance Dasakumdracarita^ who flourished not 
much later than the former. 

Attitude towards Life. 

The attitude towards life was a fusion of both optimism and pessimism. As 
a matter of fact, the organization of the Hindu society is based on a synthetic and 
well balanced arrangement of situations and values and naturally therefore, all 
phases of outlook are easily discernible in it. The arrangement of the dsramas, 
particularly of the first two the Brahmacarya and the Garhasthya was such as 
to necessarily fill the holders of these stages with a will to make progressive efforts. 
And in this regard the attitude of the people may be considered optimistic. It 
may also be borne in mind that the common people led a happy, merry and con- 
tented life. But the-fact of the birth being considered a misery from which eman- 
cipation was sought, and the belief in the predestination of events and happenings 
may point to the acceptance of a helpless state of things and in this regard the out- 
look may have tended to become pessimistic.* It must, however, be added here 
that although asceticism and the renunciation of the world may have been the 
outcome of such an attitude towards life which the Buddhistic pessimism may 
have accentuated, yet exertion was an essential and marked feature of the 
hermitages also. The aSramas themselves, especially the last two, i. e., the 

* Ibid., III. 50. 

* Ibid., IV. 51. 
*K*.,V1. 70. 
*4gte.,IV. 32. 
6 Ibid., 40. 

6 K.> I. 20. 

* Ibid., 27, etc. 

Ibid., VII. 35. 

10 Ibid., 56. 

11 Ibid., Vffl. 79-82. 


vdnaprastha and sanydsa^ were not a result of disgust and sorrow, but the conse- 
quence of a properly thought out project of life in which it was seen that no side 
of life starved. 

Asceticism 1 , of course, was considered an ideal state necessary for the attain- 
ment of the highest bliss 2 and Kalidasa makes almost all his kings renounce the 
world and retire to the solitude of the forest. But there also an intense activity 
was their lot and function. There the ascetics worked for their own emancipa- 
tion from the births by spiritual practices and (strove to create a good order of 
things by imparting education to the youth who flocked to their hermitages. Those 
who ran the Gurukulas were the Brahmin anchorites. It was there that they strove 
to burn their actions in the fire of knowledge (jndncP) and practised yoga. 

Kinds of Ascetics 

We read in Kalidasa of many kinds of ascetics 4 . They were the latilaf*^ 
Sddhakas* and Yatis* besides those other numerous types not motioned by the 
poet. Of these the Jatilas were eremites growing long matted hair 8 . Sadha- 
kas were those performing anusthanas and bent upon acquiring their objective 
the sadhya. Yatis were another class of ascetics whose dead body was not cre- 
mated but buried under ground. 

Dress, etc. 

The dress and emblems 9 of an ascetic were distinctive. The dress proper was 
made of the bark of trees 10 (;W^c?/^)which was worn even by women 11 ascetics. Siva 
is said to use an elephant hide for his dress 12 . Whenever dress made of cloth was 
put on it was dyed red (kasaya). The girdle was made of a rope of the munja 
plant whence it was called maunjl^. It was also sometimes made of kufd^* The 
seeds of aksa or rudrdksa, as they were called, were made into a string and used 
as an earring 17 , wristlet (vataya ls ) and a necklace (tndla] and a rosary. Sometimes 
even crystals were used to make an aksamdlikdte\.\\\z fingers 19 . Skin(^//^ 20 ) and 

fa., VII. 6; ?q^T Ibid., 18. 
Ibid., VIII. 16. 

3 Ibid., 20. 

4 Ibid., 17, 25, IX. 76, j<4H &k.> p. 21; Ragbu. y XIII. 87; Ku., V. 29; Mai., p. 97. 


7 Ragbu., VIII. 25; AfJ/., I. 14, p. 97. 

8 Ragbu., XIII. 59; Ku., III. 46, V. 9, 47; Sak., VII. n; Vik.> V. 19. 
*&aglw., VIII. 1 6. 

10 Ragfai., XII. 8, XIV. 82; Ku., V. 8, 30, 44; fak. 9 1. 17, p. 28, II. 12; Vik.> p. 135. 
., I. 17, II. 12; Ragbu., XIV. 82; Ku., V. 8, 44. 
#> I- 54- 

15 #., IX. 21. 

"Ibid., XIII. 43; Ku., III. 46, V. n 63. 

17 Ragtw., XIII. 43. 


19 *.,V. 63. 

90 Ragbu., IX. 21; Ku., V. 30. 


kuSa were utilized as asanas.* The bed of the ascetic was either of the kufa 1 grass 
or the bare .earth 2 itself. A particular class of ascetics called Dandi carried a 
staff (dandcP)* A kamandalu also was a necessary emblem of the ascetic. People 
living in penance groves used ingudl oil for their head 4 and for lamps 5 . 


Ascetics excelled in the pcifoimance of tapas*^ i. e., self-mortification. Kli- 
dasa depicts very vividly the kinds of rigorous austerity which they practised in 
their tapovanas, the penance groves. The descriptions do not always seem to have 
been given of austerities witnessed and they may have been recorded on the 
strength of the Puranas which are full of them. The description of Marici in the 
Sdkuntala is vivid. The sage had become so completely absorbed in meditation 
that he was quite oblivious to all that was happening to his mortal tenement in 
the place where he was sitting. He stayed unmoveable like the trunk of a tree 
or a pillar. Jty anthill had grown round him and had buried half his body. Ser- 
pents freely moved on his chest and birds had made nestles in the mass of his 
matted hair 7 . Another mode of performing penance was by sitting in the middle 
of four fires, the summer sun shining on the head as the fifth 8 . In the Yj4mara- 
sambhava Uma, performing penance for obtaining Siva as her husband, exposes 
herself to the appalling heat and smoke of four fires during summer, lies in icy 
cold water in winter and sleeps on naked rocks in the rains 9 . She puts on a gir- 
dle of the munja plant 10 and wears a string of aksa on her fingers 11 . She living on 
bare water like trees 12 and wearing barks of trees 13 put the austerities of great an- 
chorites to shame 14 through her own mortification. The penance of Uma may 
be taken for the type. We have, besides, the reference to a sage living exclu- 
sively on darbha grass 15 , to another, self-restrained in his actions, standing in the 
midst of four fires constantly fed with fuel while the sun scotching his head 16 , 
to a third.with his one arm always kept raised up and the other holding the rosary 
of rudrdksa on the wrist 17 . Another such ascetic is said to be throwing himself 
in the fire propitiated with the sacred fuel after having consecrated himself with 

1 8. 
2 Ibid,, I. 95. 

., V. 12. 

. 21. 

A*., p. 200; Ragfa., XIV. 81. 
6 Ku., V. 6, 18, 25, 28, 29; $ak.> p. 262. 
7 ^., VII. IT. 
8 Ku.> V. 20; R^//,, XTIL 41. 
*Ku., V. 23-25. 
3 Ibid., 10. 
11 Ibid., 10. 
" Ibid., 22. 

13 Ibid., 8, 16. 

14 Ibid., 29. 

15 Raght4.> XIII. 39, 

"Ibid., 4 i;rf.43- 
17 Ibid., 43. 


mantras*** There were those others hanging from the branches of trees with 
their heads downwards and their eyes red with the smoke of the fire 2 . In this 
manner the ascetics performed tapas for the realization of their object 3 . It was 
supposed that as a result of penance one could know and see everything 4 whether 
past or future, and that the ascetic could punish his offender through idpas (cur- 
ses). But sapa utilized as a wcftpon against a miscreant when other means were 
existent was considered ruinous to tapa 6 . A non-twice-born ascetic had no right 
to .perform penances 6 . In spite of these instances of self-mortification, sane people 
advocated moderation in austerities and asserted that the physical body was the 
first and the foremost requisite in the performance of Vharmd* and so it must 
be kept safe. As a matter of fact, there is an indication in a reference that keeping 
a moral restraint on the body, speech, and thought was the real tapas of the three 
kinds 8 . 


Uninterrupted austerities could be practised only in the hermitages situated 
in the solitude of forests. There the conventional bonds of the society were 
conspicuous by their absence and harder regulations and stricter modes of reli- 
gious life were practised. There in the sylvan solitude, nature herself aided the 
meditation of the ascetics. Kahdasa gives a graphic picture of the quiet and peace- 
ful life in these hermitages (tapovanas^. A hermitage could be easily distinguished 
by the wild rice fallen about from the nests of the parrots 10 , by the oily stones used 
for cracking the irigudi fruit, 11 by the deer, accustomed to freedom and love, 
standing unconcerned on the approach of a chariot 12 , by the water dripping from 
the bark-clothes of the ascetics suspended from the boughs of trees 13 , and by the 
narrow artificial canals full of water washing the roots of trees 14 . 

Towards the end of the day the penance grove got full of hermits returning 
from other parts of the forests fetching the sacrificial wood, kuSa grass, and flowers 
and fruits 15 . This function was perhaps allotted to the young sons of the sages 16 . 
Birds and animals were affectionately looked after 17 . Many a deer was almost 

i Ibid., 45- 

* Ibid., XV. 49- 


>* p- 262. 

XV. *. 

6 fiNd<dHfcl$( Ibid., IX. 76. 

7 *|{)<H13 rf*fl*M* &/., V. 33. 

... .- ,_>.," 18, XI. i. 
*!! ^ I <J ' $PF*nT s FteT Safe., p. F. 13. 

11 Ibid. 

12 Ibid. 

18 Ibid., also ibid., 28. 

14 Rjtgbti., I. 51. 

i* Ibid.J. 4&Vik.> p x i28. 

:., I. 13, IV, 13; Rcigbtt., 1. 50, 51, etc. 


adopted as a son and was given a name 1 . When the deer got hurt by the sharp 
kuSa grass while grazing, ingudi oil was applied to its wound 2 . Hermitages 
were often crowded with the deer blocking the doors of the huts approaching 
the wives of sages to be fed 3 by them as children by mothers 4 . After the sunset 
the deer sat ruminating 5 on the aSrama ground near the altars 6 . The wild rice 
(nfvara) was collected and heaped 7 before*the huts. The trees of the dsrama were 
regarded as children and were irrigated by the daughters of hermit?, 8 Uma 9 , 
Slta 10 , and Sakuntala 11 are said to have watered these trees with small irrigating 

jars 12 . 


' An ascetic was given a hut (jttaja^^ parnatdld^} where a light fed by the 
ingudi oil 15 burned at night and a bed of the holy hide 16 or kusa mat 17 was spread 
out. Such a peaceful aha mat* was indeed to be approached with due restraint 19 
on the part of a guest, for it was a dharmdranya 1 *, a righteous penance grove. 
Polite eremites, who were themselves pre-eminent in the practice of self control 21 , 
received him with regard while the gathering smoke laden with the sacrificial 
offerings sanctified 22 the new comer. The guest to the hermitage was then duly 
entertained 23 . 

Hermitages were celebrated for their life of restraint (iamapradhana*) and 
they breathed a calm and peaceful air. This is why the city when entered by a 
hermit presented such a contrast to him. He felt as though he had entered a house 
ablaze with fire 25 or as though the bathed had been touched by the oily, cleanliness 

p. i?*-iv. 13. ibid., iv. 13. 

*Ragb*. 9 1. 50. 

4 RtfgZw., I. 5.2. . 
G Ibid., XIV. 79. 
6 Ibid. 

8 ctHfot*mi: S^HTC: fak, p- 25; cf. Ragbu., XIV, 78; Ku.> V. 14. 

9 w.,V. 14. 
10 &aghu., XIV. 78. 
ll ^J*.,pp. 25 ff. 

12 Ra&bi., XIV. 78; KM., V. 14; ^., p. 25. 

13 R^gfar., I. 50, XIV. 81, XIX. 2; #//., V. 17. 

14 JUg/w.,I. 95. 
is Ibid., XIV. 8 1. 

16 Ibid. 

17 Ibid., I. 05. 

18 5TRT &* ! *4J cf. snsHT IWd- PP- *3 6 5 VII. u; K/*., 128. 

20 Ibid., I. 29. 

21 R^//., I. 55- 
"Ibid., 5 3. 

Ibid., 58, XIV. 82; Ktt. 9 V. 31; $&k.> pp. 21, 22. 
, II. 7. 
V. 10. 


had been oppressed by dirt and the free put in chains 1 . Naturally therefore, the 
conduct not suited to the hermitage was condemned. Violence was detested 
and considered an unpardonable offence 2 . A rigorous discipline was maintained 
and the transgressor was readily sent away. A little boy, Ayus, the son of Puru 
rava, who had aimed at and killed a vulture, was expelled 3 from the asrama by 
Cyavana despite his young age. 

A number of ancient hermitages has been recorded by Kalidasa. We read 
of penance groves spreading along the Ganges 4 . The asramas of individual 
sages mentioned by the pc et were those of Valmikl 5 , Vasistha 6 , Kanva on the 
Malim 7 Cyavana 8 , Agastya 9 , Satakarm 10 , Sarabhaiiga 11 , Marici 12 and of others. 

Religious Cults 

Religious cults had arisen long before Kalidasa and both Vaisnavism and 
Saivism were flourishing in the land. We have already discussed the Bhaga- 
vata, PaSupata, and other cults before in the context of important individual dei- 
ties. Although there are no direct references made by the poet to Buddhism, its 
existence is warranted by the recordsof Fahien 15 , a contemporary pilgrim from 


We have already noted the belief in the creation of the cosmos (sfsti u , sargcP) 
by Biahma, here we may revert to the subject of cosmogony and mark a few more 
features of it. The universe has been variously called as samsara^jagat^ and by 
such other synonyms of these which imply a constant change of form typified by 
the births and deaths. The universe is supposed to be created and destroyed by 
Brahma at the end of a Kdpa 1 *. A Kalpa which forms but a day of Brahma is 
equal to 1,000 cycles of human ages, i.e., 432 millions of human years; so long the 
creation exists. At the end of this period anight of equal duration follows, in 
which the universe collapses and is turned into an immense ocean, all things mer- 
ging into hopeless chaos. Visnu, the lord of all, sleeps on his Sesa on the sur- 
face of water till the break of the morn, when the universe is created again, and 
a new Kalpa begins. It is supposed that Visnu m the form of an immense boar 

, VII. i8;cf. F/*.,pp. 128-129. 
Ibid., p. 129. 

4 fagbu., XIV. 28. 

5 Ibid., 75-82. 

6 Ibid., I. 35,48fT. 

7 SaJk. 9 p. 21. 

8 !/;., pp. 128-129. 

9 ILiji*., XIII. 36. 
'Ibid., 38, ff. 

11 Ibid., 45- 

".&*., pp. 238 ff. 

13 James Lcgge: Fiahen'* Record of Buddhntjc Kingdom, (throughout the work). 

'**., II. 4, 6. 7, *, 10. 

is Ibid., 6, 7. 

., VII. jfcl&*.,IL8. 



lifted up the submerged earth above the surface of the ocean holding it upon 
his jaws 1 . 

Kalidasa refers to seven regions 2 of the cosmos which rise one above the 
other. He, however, does not specifically name them. But traditionally 
they are enumerated thus: the earth; the space between the earth and the sun, the 
region of the munis, siddhas, etc.; the heaven of Indra above the sun or between 
the sun or the polar star; the region above the polar star and the abode of Bbrgu 
and other celestial sages, who survive the destruction of the* three worlds sitiia- 
ted below; that, \vhich is described as the abode of Brahma's sons; the abode of 
deified sages; and the abode of Brahma. Brahma, here identified with Visnu 3 , 
is the holder 4 of all these regions enumerated above. 


Here we may discuss a few incidents of eschatology referred to By 
Kalidasa, We shall first refer to the soul and its transmigration. Dim recol- 
lection of occurrences in former states of existence are supposed occasionally 
to cross the mind 5 . 

The Soul and Its Transmigration 

The chain of births 6 is the transmigration of soul and it is the 
main principle of all Hindu metaphysics. The spirit or soul which occurs 
so often in course of the descriptions of the poet has been defined 
as 'witness, solitary, bystander, spectator, passive' by the Sankhja Karikd^^ and 
'eternal' and 'indestructible' by the Bhagawadgtd*. All speculations in the Hindu 
philosophy start with it making it the very foundation of the metaphysical 
discussions. All philosophical speculations, whether ^kahmamcal or Buddhistic, 
seek to answer the question: How to stop the metempsychosis ? The chain 
of births must be discontinued. The soul which is a prisoner m the body must 
be emancipated. The ephemeral unreal corporeal existence must cease and the 
soul must be set free from the fetters of the body (sarirabandha*} to attain the state 
of undefinable bliss. Freedom from the transmigration (sanrabandha) is not pos- 
sible unless all actions good or bad, i.e., the fruits thereof, are burnt down 10 . 
Aja, wailing for Indumatiand contemplating* to commit suicide in order to regain 
her is \varned against it by the disciple of Vasista in the following manner: You will 
not be able to claim her, even if you die after her; for the ways of those who enjoy 
the other world lie along different roads according to their respective actions". 

I Ibid., KM., VI. 8. 
2 &^*.,X. 21. 

3 Ibid., 20-22. 

4 KM., II. 6-8. 

5 Rrfg/w., I. 20. 

6 *|*HKK Ibid., VII. 15. nq4Hr4HfiddW XL 22, cf. I. 20; XVIII. 50; SaL, IV. i. 

7 Verse XIX. 

Ragf*., XIII. 5 8. 
30 Ibid., Vin. 20; cf. VidSuMsStra, IV. i, 13, 14. 

II R*<gta., Vin. 85. 


But the poet asserts that for those that take a dip on the confluence of Ganga 
and Yamuna there is no farirabandha although they may not have obtained 
tattvajnand. The idea of 'Paraloka 2 ' or next world was always present in the 
mind of the people during the age of the poet. 

The phrase samskara is used in different senses byKalidasa, i.e., in the sense 
of polishing 3 , grammatical purity 4 , mental culture 5 , etc. He uses this word also 
for the impressions produced by good or bad actions performed by an individual 
in' a previous existence 6 . Such impressions are called samskaras because they 
arc supposed to remain clinging to the soul of the individual u ho performed them 
bkc the smell (ydsana) of a thing like musk, which though itself separated, 
yet remains in the cloth. The new-born infant proceeding, untaught, to suck 
its mother's breast, is said to illustrate a case in point. 


Death was supposed but the nature of the sentient beings 7 . Life, however, 
was a mere deviation from that mature state, death was natural and normal, 
life unnatural and abnormal 8 . It has been said that death is not the final extinc- 
tion of life" of the spirit but only its sleep, long sleep (dirghanidrd 9 ). This idea 
accords well with the theory of a chain of births and the transmigration of soul. 
The stup d minded s>lone were supposed to consider the loss of a dear person as 
a dart fixed in the heart, but the firm-minded regarded the same as a dart extracted 
on account of its serving as a door leading to bliss 10 . It was said that the uninter- 
rupted flow of teais shed by relations simply tormented the departed soul 11 . 
Yama, the restramer, the Pluto of the Greeks and the regent of the southern region, 
was supposed to be the god of the dead and the lord of the nether regions. 

Ufe after Death 

There was thus a life after death. We read of the lokdntara^ and para/oka 
which imply an existence of the spirit (preta^ beyond death in a particular region. 
The conception of svarga and naraka, consequent upon actions meritorious 
and otherwise, had long before come into existence. Good actions were 
expected to gain wapga 1 * for a man where divine women received him 16 and where 

1 Ibid., XIII. 58. 

2 Ibid., 49, 85; Kx., IV. 10, 28.; Ragku., I. 69. 
3 R*^*.,m. 18. 

4 Ibid., XV. 76, KM, I. 28 
5 R^//.,III. 3 5; to., VII. 74. 

6 Ragtw. 9 I. 20. 

7 Ibid., II. 57. 

8 Wf STfffa qOfVm ftffWfftRnj^t ^: Ibid., VIII. 87. 

9 Ibid., XII. 81. > 
10 Ibid., 88. 

11 Ibid., 86. 

12 Ibid., I. 69. 

13 Ibid., VIII. 49, 85; to., IV. 10, *8. 

14 Ra&bu., XI. 16; to., V. 68. 

bu.. XI. 87, XV. 29; to., VI. 37; Af, P., 30. 16 Raghu. y VII. 5 3- 



the company of gods 1 was assured. Among such good actions were also included 
a bath on the confluence of certain rivers 2 and death resulting through fighting 3 . 
Svarga was otherwise known as the heaven of Visnu (yaisnavam dhdmam)*. 
Those spirits that cannot gain admittance in Svarga go to the pitrloka, i. e., 
the celestial region of the Pitrs, the ancestors. The seven lokas have already 
been treated elsewhere. 

Pitrs 5 are the deceased ancestors. They reside in a particular reg'on. 
The Hindu conception of a man's relationship with his departed ancestors 
is in 1 he form of an obligation of the former to the latter. The Hindu male 
owes three kinds ofrnas, i. e, debts, namely rsi-rna* which is paid through his 
studies ox the Vefas 9 'dwa-rna* 9 paid through his performance of sacrifices and 
other religious practices, and the pitr- repaid through the procreation of a male 
child, Pitr-rna* was the last of the three debts whence it was called also the last 
debt (antyarh rnatti*}. The idea was of handing down what one had received. Man 
receives a life and he must, therefore, beget a ion and thus perpetuate his line. 
Hence the compulsory character of the rite of marriage among the Hindus. The 
Pitrs are styled as pindabhdjdh^ eaters of 'oblations. This term is applied to the 
\ hree immediate ancestors namely, the father, the grandfather and the great-grand- 
father. The ccremtfny of offering oblations, which was performed on the death- 
of the father and on his death anniversaries, was called Pitr-kriyd 11 or Srdddha. 
These offerings were supposed necessary for securing the well-being of the 
souls of the dead. The offering of the oblations could be performed only by a 
male child in whose Absence the ancestors would not receive their meals. 
Dusyanta 12 and Dilipa 13 equally bemoan their childlessness and its far-reaching 

Excepting a few incidents like the description of hermitages, the details of 
wor&hip and religious convictions of the people, the endless Puranic refer- 
ences to idols and incarnations, rites and modes of worship arc by no means 
remnants of that early age which the poet seeks to describe for it can be shown 
that they had not yet developed. They are, therefore, more truly a reflection of 
his own age, 

1 Ibid., 5 1, VIII. 95. 

2 Ibid., VIII. 95-, XIII. 58. 

3 Ibid., VII. 51-53- 

4 Ibid., XL 85. * 

6 Ibid., I. 67, 71, V. 8, VI. 20, VIII. 30, XII. 61; ^4., VI. 24, 25. 

6 JLtgfe., VIII. 30. 

7 Ibid. 

I. 10. 
* Ibid., I. 71. 
30 Sat,., VI. 24. 

L 61. 



Innumerable references to philosophical doctrines in the writings of the poet 
throw a flood of light on the metaphysical speculations current during the poet's 
time. By bringing together the data furnished by Kalidasa. it will be possible 
to build-up a readable account of the contemporary philosophy. Almost all the 
schools of Indian philosophy, the Sankhya, Vedanta, Mimamsa, Vaisesika, Nyaya 
and Yog?, have been alluded to by the poet, and we shall treat of them in the 
following pages, one by one. 


Kalidasa seems to accept the Sankhya-yoga view of the nature of the universe. 
The three constituents of Nature, Sattva (light), Rajas (activity) and Tamas (inertia) 
have found constant mention in his works 1 . The mystic -three or the' triad 
of gunas (trigundh) residing in Prakrti (prakrtisthanfi) are the Sattva, Rajas and 
Tamas 3 . Prakrti is the state of a perfect equipoise of these three^wwA The three 
gunas have been explained in the Tattva Samdsa, a text book of the Sankhya school, 
in the following manner: By the triad of gunas is meant the "three gunas? 

Triad of Qualities 

Goodness is endlessly diversified accordingly as it is exemplified in calmness, 
lightness, complacency, attainment of wishes, kindliness, contentment, patience, 
joys and the like; summarily it consists of happiness. Foulness is endlessly 
diversified, accordingly as it is exemplified in grief, distress, separation, excite- 
ment, anxiety, fault-finding, and the like; summarily it consists of pain. Dark- 
ness is endlessly diversified, accordingly as it is exemplified in envelopment, 
ignorance, disgust, abjectness, heaviness, sloth, drowsiness, intoxication and 
the like; summarily it consists of delusion. 


The triad of gunas is a term familiar to all the systems of Hindu philosophy. 
The life of man with all its virtues, motives, feelings, passions, aspirations and 
actions of all kinds are supposed to have been generated from the three gunas 5 . 

1 K*. 9 II. 4; K^gk, VIII. 21, X. 38; mi, I. 

2 &*#&//., VIII. 21. 

8 *R*f STO^F ?&, 4MM*-W *HS4f ?&:, ^KI+JH TO SaAkbya-KSnka, 13., cf. YogasStras, 
II. 1 8. 

4 WI Hffa: Sankhya-stitra, I; 61. cf. also Karikd, 16. 

n Mai., I. 


These gunas constitute matter and generate alj modifications. Prakrti 1 is, accor- 
ding to the Sankhya school, the root cause in the formation of the universe 2 . 
Following Sdrikbja, the poet calls it avyaktcp. The two principal categories of 
the Sankhyas are Prakrti also called Pradhana, the chief, 3rd Purusa (spirit). 
Prakrti is the principle of change and the object enjoyed and also the origin of 
the seven principal evolutes and sixteen other products 4 . Purusa is conscious- 
ness, the unchanging amidst change, the subject par excellence. According to 
the Sankhya system, the universe is the development of Prakrti, and Purusa or 
spirit takes no part in its creation. He is passive, a mere looker on, while Prak- 
rti evolves the cosmos. Prakrti acts for the benefit of the Purusa: "The one is 
blind," says the Kwikd b , which Kalidasa seems to endorse 6 , "the other is lame. 
Their union is essential for the purpose of creation." Prakrti is said by' the poet 
to be the accomplisher of the desire or purpose (arthci] of the Purusa 7 . The epi- 
thet purustirthaprarartml used for Prakrti is strictly in keeping with the Sankhya 
system 8 . It may be noted here that although the context is one of a eulogy of 
God, nevertheless the terminology, and the manner of treatment is that of the 
Sankhyas. Kalidasa characterizes Purusa as Uddsma and taddarsfi. This concep- 
tion, indeed, is of the older Sankhya system contained in the Kdthaka and the 


The Sankhya conccpton 10 of Bnddhi (mahattatva) or intellect has also been 
alluded to by Kalidasa in his phrase buddhenvdvyaktam^. Hemadri explains the 
phrase to mean 'like mulaprakriti, the invisible cause of Buddhi'. Mulaprakrti is 
in fact the three gunas that have not yet produced anything 12 . While comment- 
ing on the phrase Caritravardhana notes that 'Prakrti is said to be the cause of 
Intellect (Buddhi) or Mahattatva. 13 

The poet refers also to the external sensory or motor organs in his phrase 

1 &*.,!!. 13. 

: Sankhya- 

kanka, 3. Cf. M^4HfUH<: S. Sutras cf. Kafha I. i, 10-11, II. 3, 7-8; cf. also Ku.> II. u. 

6//.,X. 1 8. 
4 Cf . Sankhya- kanka^ 3 . 

' I. Sdnkhya-kdnkd, 21, cf. also Ibid., 57. 

6 Ku., II. 13; cf. Saitkbyasiitra, II. 161, 163, cf. also 

II S. K. 9 19. 

. 1 3- 

j. K. 9 17; j. j.,ni. i. 

9 Kn. 9 II. 13. Purua ir characterized elsewhere as ^filflfaq'-H (Yogas iitra-bhasya\ Cf. 
f the poet), and for whom the object exists, ^jf TT^ <^fm^t Yogas utra, II. 21; 
: Ibid., II. 20; also cf. S. S., II. 161, 16^. 

. ., 23-24. 
11 Ragtw., XIII. 60; cf. F/yfe t> p. 61 . 


sabdhyakarana 1 ,and to the mind in the phrases antariitma* and antahkarana? 
The organs of sense, according to the Sankhya system, 4 are divided into two 
classes, external (bdhyendriya) and internal (antahkarand). The external organs 
are of two kinds: the five organs of perception (Jndnendriya), namely the ears, 
eyes, skin, tongu and nose; and the five organs of actions (karmendriyd)^ namely' 
the throat, hands, feet, the organ of digestion and that of generation. 6 The 
internal organs are the following, namely the inner sense (manas) or the organ of 
thought, the intellect (buddht] and the ego sense (ahamkard). Antahkarana carries 
the consciousness and feeling of misery from one birth to another. The control 
of the senses," the Indriyas*^ the poet says, is to be achieved through tattvajndna*, 
knowledge of the real nature of things. The Kathopanisad brings out the 
relationship of the senses, mind, intellect, soul and Brahma. 8 


Kalidasa, following the Sankhya school, refers to the three pramdnas* or 
means of obtaining correct knowledge of the nature of all existing things. They 
are as follows: Pratyaksa, perception by the senses, Anuman'a, inference, and 
Aptavak, credible assertion or trustworthy testimony including Vedic revelation. 

The saving knowledge which delivers Purusa, from the misery of transmi- 
gration consists according to the Sankhya system, in realizing the absolute distinc- 
tion (yivekakhydt'i) between spirit and latter. Kapila was the first to draw a 
sharp line of demarcation between the two domains of matter and spirit. His 
conception is entirely dualistic, admitting only of two things, both without begin- 
ning and end, but essentially different, matter on the one hand, and an infinite 
plurality of individuals on the other. 


Kalidasa does not specifically allude to the Vedanta philosophy as a system. 
There is no theory of illusion (mayd\ no proper doctrine of the identity of the indi- 
vidual with the absolute except perhaps in one reference. 10 He refers instead to the 
popular Vedanta and the pantheistic conception of God. His panegyrical prayers 

1 $ak. y p. 235; !///., p. 117; R<7g&/.,XIV. 50. 
*Jak. 9 p. 255. 
3 !/>*., p. 117. 

r S. K-, 30; *RT^T prfw ^m ro|r Ibid., 33, For sense organs 

etc - o 

5 sffrr 

^rar n A//,, u. 90. 

6 Rgbu., IV. 60, V. 23, VIII. 10; Vtk., p. 61. 

7 Raghu., IV. 60, XIII. 58. ^ 

TT TT: i TTO^ TTT fetrirfTT T^PTT: i 

^TT TTT iRT: ! 3> io-n 

: || S 

9 &aghu. y X. 28, XIII. 60. cf. 
l II S. K., 4. 


embody the spirit of the 'Upanisads and the Bhagavadgftd which we shall try to 
elucidate in due context. To the Upanisads the poet directly refers in his phrase 
Veddnttsul Passages 2 treating of the origin of the universe from Isvara, i.e., 
both the material and the efficient cause of the universe, and of all things going 
back to him in pralaya are reminiscent, of yet not identical with the Upaniadic 
conception of ftrahma as the cause of the universe. 3 The same ideas are referred 
to in the Brahtxasutras* In the Utaghuvctmta we have a long prayer addressed to 
Visnu. There the deity is praised as one producing, holding in existence and ulti- 
mately destroying the'universe 5 . According to the Vedanta philosophy, Nirguna 
Brahma without form and entirely unbound and unaffected by any of three quali- 
ties is the only really existing entity. This idea of the transcendent Brahma exis- 
ting as a Kevaldtmd prior to his assumption of the three qualities for the purpose 
of creation is noted by the poet. 6 The Upanisads repeat this idea of the existence 
of the only entity before creation. 7 When Brahma wishes to create the pheno- 
menal world he assumes the quality of activity (Rajas) and becomes a male person, 
Brahma (at one stage splitting himse]f into two persons, both male and female 8 ), 
the creator; next in the process of still further evolution, he invests himself with 
the quality of goodness or Sattva and bccorres Visnu or the preserver, and fi- 
nally he invests himself with the third quality of Tctmas ard appears as Siva, the 
destroyer. It is always one Brahma that assumes these three characters 9 . In 
the phtasejagaJyonilP* again we read an allusion to the Vedantic theory of cteatior, 
for there it is said that God being the material and efficient cause of the universe 
there can be nothing beyond Him 11 . The principle of pantheism is illustrated 
in the designation of Siva as Asttmlrti 12 and in his identification with the eight 
elements of Nature, namely Prthvi, Apa, Teja, Vayu, Akasa, Surya, Candra, and 
Brahmana. 13 Visnu is identified with the highest specimens and consequently 
with the Himalaya as the highest of all mountains 14 . This conception is remarkably 
akin to that contained in the tenth chapter of the fthagavadgHd-vfaziz the lord iden- 
tifies himself with all the best parts of the universe. Following the same source, 
Brahma is identified with the father of the fathers, god of the gods, with one be- 

1 ViJk. 9 I. i. 

2 Raghu., X. 16, 18, 20; Ku. 9 TI. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. 

Ta/ttrtja Up., III. i. 

4 ^f4H|?zr i^r: I. i, 2; zftf^f f^ 'ft^ ! 4> *7- 

5 X. 1 6. cf. Siva wifrtlRl&MelgK^: Ibid., II. 44; Brahma iHqRqRKHlfrli Kn. 9 II. 6. 

6 Ku., II. 4- 


Chandogya Up., VI. 2, i. <ftsr ro^f R^I^Rl . . ,It>id., 3. 

8 Ibid., 7. 

* ^<fHRJMFJ!% f^ ^TT said with reference to fae; Ku., VII. 44. 


VI. 16; Rtf^,, II. 35; Sdk. 9 L i; Mai., I. i; cf., CM, VII. 4 ff. 


yond that which is beyond all, and with the creator of the creators 1 . Likewise he 
has been called both the offering and the offerer, eatable and the eater, know- 
ledge and the knower, and the meditator and the object of meditation 2 . This seems 
to have been directly drawn from the Gfta*. He is said to cover all space with- 
out commencement 4 . He is beyond the scope of mind 5 . Following the idea 
contained in the Purusasiikta of the "R.gveda* y Brahma is described as remaining 
larger in expanse after having filled the ten directions, the entire earth and hea- 
ven 7 . Visnu is endowed with the eight attributes 8 , atomic, etc. by which he can 
subtilize or enlarge his stature. He is supposed to dwell in the heart and yet 
away, to be free from desires yet an* ascetic, compassionate yet unaffected by grief, 
old yet not subject to decay 9 . This idea is similar to those contained in the Upa- 
nisads 10 / Though omniscient, he is himself -unknown; though the source of all, 
he is self existent; though the lord of all, he is himself without a superior; he is 
one yet he assumes all forms 11 . As an act of favour to the people he condescends 
to take birth and act like human beings 12 . The G/7# 13 , where a similar view of incar- 
nation is expressed, seems to be the source of this idea. He is able to protect the 
people and yet he keeps indifferent 14 . The G/A? 15 again seems to be the source of 
this view: The same work is followed in the expression of the poet where he 
makes Visnu the end of all the roads and to whom he advocates complete resigna- 
tion and consignment of all actions on the part of the devotee. The poet says: 
The ways which lead to supreme felicity, although they are many and differently 
laid down in the scriptures, all meet in him alone 16 . To persons whose desires for 
worldly enjoyments are completely gone, and who have devoted their hearts 
and consigned their actions to him, he is the refuge for obtaining absolution 17 . 
The phrase antargatdm prdnctbbrtdm brings in the idea of the antarydmi Brahma so 
well illustrated in the Antatyami-Brahmana of the tyhaddranyctka Upanisad 1 *.. 
God being attainable through bhakti-yoga seems to be reflected in a verse 19 . We 

1 Ku , II. 14. 

2 Ibid., 15 

3 1 IV, 24. 


*FKrr ^ 1 Taift/. Up., II. 4, 9. 

7 Ibid., XIIT. 5; F/*.,I. i. 

8 Raghu., X. 77; cf. Svctasvatara, III. 20. 

9 Ibid., X. 19. 

10 d^Rl dfrHfa d<44< flqPfl^* I fa> 4*1' For fuither antithesis cf. also Svttasvatara, III. 
10, 20 etc. 

11 Ragtw., X. 20. cf. iicfr ?^f ^g^r zf: ^Ttft" Kathopantsad, V. 12, _ 

12 R^.,X. 31, 24. 

13 IV. 6-8. 

M R^//.,X. 25; 1C*., II. 13. 

15 Cf. IX. 8-10. 

16 &&*., X. 26, ct. Gfta, III. 23. 

17 -Raghtt., X. 27, cf. Gm, IX. 27, 34, also VII. i. 

18 III. 15, 16, 22; cf. ^j'HdlnHlrMl Kafba. Up., V. 9, 10, n, 12; cf. also 
i, 2, i8ff. 


have a parallel to this idea m the Gitd 1 . 
Mimdrhsd and Njdja 

There is a reference made to thtjyajSa*, i.e., the performance of sacrifices. The 
Mimamsakas hold that the Vedas enjoin action or more correctly, the performance 
of the rituals as the means of attaining heaven 3 . Kalidasa also refers specifically 
to this view and makes the performance of the rituals in accordance with 
the Vedic authorities for the attainment (phalam) of heaven (svargaffi. In this 
reference, it may be noted, the word girdm has been used which refers to the 
Vedas^that comprised the Sambitds* i.e., the bdJdy of the chief mantras, the Brah- 
manas, consisting of Vidhi and Arthavdda, and the Aranyakas and the Upanisads. 
The sacrifices and other rituals (vidbi, krjya, etc.) to which the poet frequently 
alludes and which we have fully discussed before, are the sacrifices the performance 
of which the Mimamsakas stress. Mallinatha remarks on this: karmasvargau 
brahmapavargayorapyupalaktam. He is evidently a follower of the school of the 
later theologians who propounded the philosophy of Brahma and whose doc- 
trines were systematically set forth by Sankara and others. The Vedantins main- 
tain that actions cannot lead one to salvation or Moksa, but they simply pre- 
pare the way for the knowledge of Brahma which alone leads to the final emanci- 
pation. In another place 5 the poet makes a direct reference to Jaimini. This 
reference, however, makes Jaimini a master of the practices of Yoga 6 , but it may 
be noted that this sage is hardly ever connected with Yoga. Jaimini has been 
quoted ten times by Badarayana in his Rrahmasfitras* but, it is significant, he has 
been associated nowhere with Yoga. 

Another reference to the school of Mimamsa is embodied in his expression 
vdgarthdviva samprktau vdgarthapratipattaye* . This evidently implies a reference 
to the doctrine of the Mimamsakas embodied in their expression nityahsahdd- 
rthasambandhalP . The phrase sabdaguna may be interpreted to imply a refer- 
ence to the three systems of the Vaisesjka, Nyaya and Sankhya. It may, how- 
ever, be pointed out that the same significance of the phrase is not uniformly 
maintained in the three systems. 


Like Vedanta, Yoga also seems to have been treated by the poet in a popular 

1 VIII. 14. 
2 A.,n. 12. 

t : Ibid., II. i, 7, cf. f^ ^^4: ^rf^>WF!; SabarbtSsya on 

ibid., I. 7. 

K*.,II. 12. 

R^gto., XVIII. 33. 

7 I. 2, 28; I. 2, 31; I. 3, 31; I. 4, 18; III. 2, 40; III. 4, 2; III. 4, i*; HI. 4. 4o; IV. 3, 12; 
IV. 3, 5. 

: J*'*'*' s <> L l Also cf - 

10 R^te., XIIL i, Cf. also ibid., IV. 11, X. 25, XVIII. 3. 


manner although, as we shall see below, he shows perfect acquaintance with 
the terms 1 of Patenjali. Very frequently mention of Yoga has been made by 
Kalidasa. Yoga or contemplation as a means of attaining salvation 2 and one- 
ness with the supreme soul 3 is alluded to. Yogavidhi*>\h& practice of meditation 
or abstract contemplation, according to Mallinatba, is 'realizing in the mind the 
identity of the individual soul with the supreme spirit 5 .' 

Yoga has been defined by Pat^njali as the restraint of the function of mind 
(citttP). There are eight limbs of Yoga 7 . Of these the internal ones, namely 
dhyana 8 , dhaina 9 and samadhi 10 , are mentioned by the poet. All the three have been 
fully defined in the Yogasutras-. Samadhi is the final stage wherein a complete 
cessation of the functions of the senses and the mind takes place, the contemplater 
loses all consciousness of the external world and is lost m his self. This is also 
known by the word pranidhana 1 *. It is after this that the Yogi conquers the three 
gunasoifat Prakrti, becomes oblivious of the distinction in the values of clay and 
gold 13 , and attains to the state of SthiradhP*. Sthiradhih is that state of the 
Yogi when he attains perfect tranquillity of mind. Sthiradhih is the same as the 
Sthiraprajna of the UShagavadgtta** His 'heart is not agitated in the midst of 
calamities, he has no longing for pleasures and from him the feelings of affection, 
fear and wrath depart 16 '. It is a state of perfect calm. The wor&prasawkhyana 
of Patanjali 17 is also utilized by the poet in the context of Samadhi 18 . 

The method of practising Yoga has also been alluded to by Kalidasa. Par- 
yankabandha 1 * ', also called V'rdsatM** or the heroic posture, is one of the postures 
assumed by ascetics when practising contemplation. Siva is described sitting in 
that posture, with the upper h9lf of his body drawn straight up and motionless, 
the shoulders a little depressed owing to the lotus like palms, with their concave 

1 Ibid., I. 8,74, X. 23, XITI. 5 z, XIV. 72, XVI. 7, XVIII. 33, f//., I. 59, HI- 40, 44-6o 

2 n^//.,x. 2 3) xvm. 33. 

3 Ibid., VIII. 22, 24. 

4 Ibid. 

6 Comment on ibid. 

6 f?rf5reta:, Yogusiltras, I. 2. 

^^N^^I^^HI^IHIHHC^I^K^K^Il^Mtl^l^^S^iq^FPT Ibid., II. 29. 
8 R^.,XIIL 52; tar., III. 48. 
9 Ragbu., VIII. 1 8. 

10 Kit., I. 59, III. 40, V. 6, 41, R<^ ; , XIII. 52, tec. 

11 S^N^f^Tl^r SFKTr HI- l > McAW+tfM'dl ^M*t HI- 2- 
: III. 3. 

12 Rffgto., I. 74, VIII. 19, XIV. 72; cf. Y. S., I. 23, II. i. 

13 &agbtt. 9 VIII. 21. 

14 Ibid., 22. 

]5 fm^ Bh. Gita, II. 54, 56; f^cTRW Ibid., II. 54, 55- 
16 Ibid., 56. 

17 y. s., iv. 29. 

**.,!. 59- 
19 Ibid., III. 45, 59. 
//., XIII. 52. 


surfaces turned upwards placed on the lap 1 . The palms were placed one over 
the other 2 . The half closed and steady eyes were fixed on the extreme point 
of the nose 3 . The five kinds of the air (pancamarutcF) were restrained within 
the body in the manner of a cloud pregnant with water or in that of a still lake. 
Thus all the winds within the body were stilled to action 5 . The five airs of the body 
are as follows: prdna, apdna, vydna, samdna and uddna. This prdndydmavidhi of the 
poet 6 has found mention with a slight detail in the Bhagavadgitd 1 . The use of 
the term 'Sirastah' 8 , has been made in imitation of the Yogasittra 9 . It refers tt> 
the Brahmarandhra or an aperture on the crown of the head which is said to be 
extremely brilliant and which is connected with the Susumna or the spinal cord. 
Visnu is supposed to sleep in the Yoganidra 10 . This sleep of meditation 
different from the ordinary sleep to which mortals are subject and in which all 
consciousness is suspended and which, therefore, is a form of death. It is a sleep 
such as a Yogi sleeps, in which consciousness as well as memory is present, 
and in which the sleeper enjoys communion with absent things and persons be- 
longing to different ages in which, in fact, the ordinary condition, and limits of 
knowledge are outstripped. This is a state of the Purusa who practises it, i.e., 
the contemplation repose, at the end of each quaternion of Yugas takes repose, 
having annihilated the worlds, and being praised by the first creator seated on a 
lotus sprung from his own navel 11 . 

In the state of contemplation the mind is absolutely restrained by stopping 
all bodily communication with external objects through the nine doors (navadvdrd) 
and fixed in the heart 12 . The nine doors referred to in the Bhagavad G/Az 13 also, 
are the nine openings of the body through which the mind has communication 
with the external .world around. An exactly similar state of the practice of sama- 
dhi is given in the Gttd u . Thus the mind must be made 'antarmukha/ i. e., 
turned inward from external objects of the senses. In this state of perfect 
contemplation Yogis - meditate upon the aksara Brahma 15 and obtain the 
transcending light (paratttjyotih 1 ). The idea of the aksara Brahma ha? been ela- 

1 This posture is warranted by the Bh. Gtta., VI. 13. 

2 Ku., III. 45; cf. Mtcchakaftka, I. i. 

3 Ku., III. 47; cf. Bt>. GttS, VI. 13- 

hu., VIII. 19. 

., V. 24, 
7 IV. 29, VI. 11-13. 

9 III. 32; cf. the comment on it. 

10 Ragfa., XIII. 6. 

11 Ibid. 

18 Ktt., III. 50. 

18 V. 13, VIII. 12; also cf. Svetdsvatara Up., III. 18. 

!* VIII. i a; cf. faettivatara Up., II. 8, 9. 

"&.,IH. 5o;R^/.,X. 23. 

16 K#., III. 50; also cf. WlfaqmlM *$&' Bfbadara*yakop#m?ad. 

CHAPTER xrx 349 

borated in the Gita 1 . The idea of ksetra of the poet 2 is the subject of discussion 
in the Bhagavad Gltd*. The state of the Yogi is considered remarkable and sup- 
posed to endow him with supernatural powers 4 . One possessing the power of 
Yoga was supposed, for instance, to gain entrance even through bolted doprs 6 . 
Such powers have been dealt with by Patafijali also 6 . . f I 

The contemplation or Yoga, which required one to deaden entirely the acti- 
vity of the senses, naturally necessitated a Yogi to seek the solitary corner of a 
forest. The penance grove was, therefore, a necessary institution where even 
sylvan *trees in the middle of the altars of the ascetics who devoted themselves 
to meditation in the Virasana posture, appeared absorbed in contemplation, on 
account of the stillness caused by the absence of breeze 7 / 

Yoga was taken in the sense of contemplation leading to the final emancipa- 
tion 8 . When strictly analysed, this idea does not seem much to refer, as pointed 
out above, to the philosophy of Yoga, developed in the Bhagavad Gttd* where 
Yoga has been defined as 'karma sit 

Buddhism and ]ainhm 

It is significant that no direct reference is made to the Buddhists and Jainas. 
There are perhaps a few veiled references to the Buddhism but to Jainism there is 
none unless \ve care to interpret the word Prayjparesa 11 in the Jaina sense of 
starvation to death. As regards Buddhism perhaps we have a few indirect 
references. The word Nirvana has been used by the poet several times 12 but 
it is doubtful if its implication is common with that similar term peculiar to the 
Buddhistic terminology. 'Nirvana' means full bliss, supreme happiness. It 
literally means 'what is blown out' and refers to the blowing off, complete extinc- 
tion, of the self. Perhaps the Panvarajika of the Mdlarikdgmmitra was a Buddhist 
nun as the Hindu rules of asceticism do not en courage pravrajyd among women. 
Her dress of the hermit Colour is commended 13 and she utters the formula San- 
tarn pdpam, tdntam pdpam^ akin to the similar Buddhistic expression. We must 
note that the description of Siva's contemplation 15 , to which we have made a re- 
ference above and which we have de&cribed at length elsewhere, bears a deep im- 

IYIII. 3, ii, i 3 . 
X*.,III. 50, VI. 77 . 

3 XIII. 

4 Raghu., XVI. 7; tik., p. 263. 

5 Ragtx., XVI. 7. 

7 Ragbn. 9 XIII. 52; cflbid., X. 14. 

8 Ibid., VIII. 22, 24. 

9 IV. 1-2, cf. IV. VI. 

10 II. jo;cf. Ibid., 48. 

11 Rgfor., VIII, 94- 

12 Ibid. XII. 2; Sat., p. 88; Ku. 9 III. 52; Vih., III. 21. 

13 > p. 99. 

14 Ibid. But there is another use of the phrase made in the $ak.> p. 172 in a purely non- 
Buddhistic. context. 
KM., III. 45-50. 


pression of the Buddhistic Yoga. It was mainly Buddhism that popularised the 
practices of Yoga in India. Siva in contemplation resembles Buddha under the 
Bodhi tree and the images of Buddha in the Vlrasana mudrd of which we have an 
end|ess variety preserved in the museums of India. The poet makes an allusion 
to tfye word Arhat 1 but perhaps without meaning thereby the Buddhistic accep- 
tation of the term. 

From the above notice of the philosophical references it will be evident that 
Kalidasa takes his 'Stand on popular Vedantism. It \vould seem that the sanefr 
section of the people, as represented by K/ilidasa had turned to the conception 

of a deity of universal character embracing all. 



The human aspirations according to the Hindu view centre round four ends, 
namely dharma, artha^ kdma and moksa-. The last of these, moksa, is the final 
felicity, the ultimate bliss, the supreme beatitude. The poet variously refers to 
it by the terms muktp>> apavarga*> anapayipada*, pardrdhyagatfi^ the state vt andvrtti 1 , 
ajanmd* and by such other expressions. Birth is considered a misery and a con- 
finement of the soul within the walls of body (sarlrabandhcP] from which libera- 
tion, nwkti^ is sought. In the absence of this liberation the soul has to take birth 
again and again (puncirbhavam 1 } and to undergo a chain of existences according to 
the actions of the previous birth. Each one of the noted six systems of Hindu 
philosophy, and Buddhism and Jaimsm seek to formulate their ideas and ways 
regarding the final emancipation of the spirit. According to the Vedanta this 
state is attained by the disappearance of the distinction of the individual souls and 
Brahma. Kalidasa remarks that according to the system of Yoga this state is 
achieved by meditation. 31 The Buddhists employ the word Nirvana to express this 
state. Nirvana literally means c what is blown out' and it refers to the blowing off, 
the complete extinction of the self, a sublime state of conscious rest in omni- 
science. It later oh came to mean the highest delight, the greatest felicity 12 . 

It may be noted here that actions, karmas^ good or bad, cannot win moksa 
for however do we keep them unstinted with desires and sariga they are bound to 
get tinged with some sense of the results. The attainment of the manorathas will 
necessarily form part of the end of karma 's for there is no end to the manorathas. 

1 SM.,V. 15. 

2 q^4*mqterrqrc*r R^*-, x. 84; cf. ibid., 22. 

8 Ibid., 23; Ku., III. 5. ifter Ibid., II. 5. 

4 Raito., VIII. 16. 

5 Ibid., 17., 

6 Ibid., 27. 


Ibid., XIII, 5 8. 
10 Sat., VII. 34. 

"R^gAw., VIII. 22, 24, XIII. 33; F/A., I. i. 
12 R^gfa., XII. 2; JC#., III. 52; Mat., III. i; &*., II. 10, p. 88; Vik.\ 111. 21; cf. Kir., XI. 69; 

* 50. 

18 KH., V. 64. 

CHAPTER xix 351 

The Mimamsakas lay much stress on the performance of good actions comprised 
in the rituals and religious ceremonies, but good actions (punya\ at their best, can 
bring only delight (mkha l \ a residence in one of the seven lokas*. Their achieve- 
ment in the last end can be only the attainment of svarga*^ heaven. But this 
state will not be one of the final beatitude and will not bring about a cessation of 
rebirths. The length of residence in the svarga will be in accordance with t\\zpunya 
karmas and when the latter will exhaust, the spirit will have to revert once again 
to the earth 4 and resume its existence through the chain of births. The reference 
of Kahdasa to the liberation from rebirths through a dip in the Triveni 6 is only 
an instance of arthavdda and is meant to encourage people to perform good 
actions. In fact, the existence of the spirit itself has been considered one enchained 
with th'e katmas, and for moksa, the freedom 6 from them, the cutting of the 
Gordian knot will be imperative. It is only when the actions have been burnt 
down with the fire of knowledge (tatfoajndna 1 } that moksa can be achieved and 
this horrid chain of existences put aside. 8 

1 j**.,ll. 10. 

2 Ragbt/., X. 21. 

3 Kn. y II. 12, Ragbu., XL 87, 8s, M. P., 30. 

4 M. P., $o. 

5 Raghu.> XIII. 58. 

u.,11. 51. 

7 K^'W., vn. 58; cf. ibid., iv. 60. 

8 I am mdebtfd for a few suggestions in this Chapter to my fiiend Prof. T. R. V HMurti. 



Much has been written on the date of KXlidasa ar>d the r0rge of time in which 
he is sought to be placed is extensive. He is supposed to have lived in the 2nd 
century B. C. on the one hand and in the jth century A. D. and even later on 
the other. And the epochs marked out for him between these two ends are indeed 
many. We shall not discuss here the merits or demerits of the arguments put 
forth in favour of one extreme or in that of the other; as a matter of fact, most 
of the various theories will not even repay the labour of scrutiny. It is proposed 
to briefly examine here just a few of the theories and then to furnish the data which 
may fix the poet's date as accurately as possible. An attempt will be made, there- 
fore, to bring the two lines closer and thus to indicate the utmost possible narrow 
range wherein the poet may have flourished. 

The two limits of the poet's date are easily determined. The earlier limit 
is settled by the fact that the Mdlavikagnimitra depicts the court life of Agnimitra 
the son of Pusyamitra, the founder of the Suriga family, whose rule ended about 
148 B. C. The lower limit is fixed by the Aihole inscription of 634 A. D. which 
names the poet. 

The 2nd century B. C. theory has no serious defenders. We must remem- 
ber, besides, that Kalidasa cannot be accepted as a contemporary of Patanjali 
for he shows a thorough acquaintance with the terminology used by the latter 
in his Yogasfitras. Panatanjali, we know, was a contemporary of Pusyamitra. 
Then the tradition makes the poet contemporary with Vikramaditya, which was 
never a Sunga royal epithet and who cannot be placed earlier that the ist century 

Likewise, there is a number of unsurmountable difficulties in accepting the 
ist century B. C. theory. This theory depends much for its strength on the fact 
that the Vikrama era was founded in 568. C. by a king named Vikramaditya who 
was also the patron of the poet. But we do not know of any Vikramaditya in 
the ist century B. C. likely to have been so strong as to oust the Sakas and assume 
the epithet of Sakdri and to found an era; It is even doubtful if the era was at 
all founded in the ist century B. C. The first use of this era (in the name of Vik- 
rama) 1 was made about a thousand years after the time when it is said to have been 
founded ! The theory, however, has had two brilliant champions, namely Rao 
Bahadur C. V. Vaidya and Professor K. C. Chattopadhyaya. Vaidya's arguments, 
set forth in the Annals of the "Bhandarkar Institute* y have been thoroughly met by 
K. G. Sankar in the next issue of the same publication 3 . The endeavours of Prof. 

1 This era was in use under a different name, vi^ Kfta. 

2 July 1920, pp. 63-68. 

3 Pp. 189 ff. 


Chattopadhyaya also have been controverted by Prof. V. V. Mirashi in his Kali- 
Jdsa 1 . But here a few remarks may be made against the conclusion of Mr. Chatto- 
padhyaya. He has taken his stand on the fact that there are similarities intheexpres- 
sions of Kalidasa and ASvaghosa and he has tried to show that the latter is a bor- 
rower &nd that since he lived in the ist century A. D M the" poet must have lived 
in the ist century B. C. It may be observed at the very outset that many of the 
supposed similarities are no Similarities at all and ninety percent of the phraseo- 
logy of Kalidasa which the learned professor reads in ASvaghosa are common to 
all Sarskrit poets. As a matter of fact, they are the common property of the 
Sanskrit literature. And even when it may be established that the borrowing is 
genuine it will remain to be proved as to who borrowed from whom. The evi- 
dence deduced from the writings of the two poets and the subsequent conclu- 
sions drawn froro them by the professor are hardly convincing Some of the 
conclusions are indeed absolutely unwarranted. A searching scrutiny will easily 
show this to be the case. 

"Prof. Chattopadhyaya thinks that when a philosopher is constrained to 
write poetry he will read and imitate others 2 . But there is hardly any justifica- 
tion for his view that ASvaghosa was constrained 'to write poetry. We hold that 
the compositions of the poet were never a result of constraint. They were on 
the contrary a product of choice, voluntary choice. He has amply put his creden- 
tials before his critics and whoever judges him will be convinced that he may be 
inferior to this poet or that in the dignity of diction, in the sweetness of expression 
or in t